Commissioner Reconstitutes Office-Based Surgery Advisory Panel

Group Will Study Growth of Outpatient Surgeries, Recommend Improvements; Goal to Prevent Tragedies Such As Those Involving Surgeon Dr. David Ostad

New York, August 4, 2005 -- State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today announced the state Health Department will reconstitute a special advisory committee to study and make recommendations on improving the safety and outcomes of office-based surgery. The Commissioner's action comes in the wake of recent tragic cases of poorly performed office-based surgery by Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. David Ostad.

The Committee on Quality Assurance in Office-Based Surgery was initially established in 1997 to develop clinical guidelines that physicians should use in establishing and operating office based surgical practices. The guidelines cover the provision of anesthesia services by trained and qualified personnel, the hiring and credentialing of staff, medical record maintenance, infection control, informed consent and the maintenance of equipment. Recognizing the continued growth of office-based procedures, the Commissioner has reconvened this panel to make further recommendations to improve patient safety.

"While the overwhelming majority of medical practitioners in New York provide outstanding care to their patients, we must be vigilant in protecting the public from those who would harm their patients through negligence and malpractice," Dr. Novello said.

"The number of office-based surgical procedures performed nationwide has more than doubled in the past decade, with approximately 10 million performed annually. As the practice of medicine evolves in this direction, our ability to ensure patient safety must evolve with it.

"This advisory panel will allow us to evaluate the impact of office-based surgery on patient safety and health outcomes, and will provide us with guidance that will aid us in keeping New York State in the vanguard of health care delivery and patient safety," Dr. Novello said.

Robert Scher, MD, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York, said, "We commend Commissioner Novello for proposing a reconstitution of the department's Committee on Quality Assurance in Office-Based Surgery. The office-based surgery guidelines developed by the Committee and adopted by the Department of Health in 2000 provided an important foundation for protecting the safety of New York patients who undergo invasive procedures in non-hospital settings."

"The State Medical Society has throughout its entire history been committed to assuring the highest quality of care for our patients and remains so committed today," Dr. Scher said. "The reconstitution of the committee will assure that greater clarity is provided regarding additional steps that may be needed to further enhance the quality of care provided in these settings and most importantly protect the patients who entrust us with their care."

Dr. Novello cited several cases in which the New York State Board of Professional Medical Conduct took action against physicians' medical licenses for negligent and/or incompetent patient care. The cases range from failures to adequately monitor patients, to botched surgeries that resulted in permanent injury or death.

The most recent high profile cases involved surgeon Dr. David Haim Ostad, who this month surrendered his medical license after the Department's Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) charged him with 11 counts of misconduct in the care he provided to five patients. Specifically, Dr. Ostad failed to control blood loss sustained by two patients during separate surgical procedures, did not admit a patient to a hospital following post-surgical complications, botched two separate procedures that resulted in permanent nerve damage to the patients, and failed to provide records to OPMC as part of the State's investigation.

The following medical conduct cases involving office-based surgery were also highlighted by Dr. Novello:

  • Pankaj Desai, M.D. - The Commissioner of Health summarily suspended his medical license in response to an OPMC investigation that found 136 counts of misconduct in the care provided to 12 patients. Dr. Desai intentionally lied to a patient claiming the patient had cancer, when in fact the pathology report showed that she did not. He placed a chin implant in a second patient despite the high risk for infection. The patient subsequently sustained an infection and required a second surgery to remove the implant. Dr. Desai also falsely claimed that he was a member of professional societies for advertising purposes and to obtain hospital privileges.
  • Henry Zackin, M.D. - Agreed to a disciplinary surrender of his medical license following an OPMC investigation where it was determined that he violated a disciplinary consent order imposed by the State limiting his scope of practice. Due to negligence, Dr. Zackin had previously entered into a consent order with the state to perform major surgical procedures only in licensed hospitals or ambulatory surgery centers under the supervision of other physicians. The OPMC found that he scheduled an extensive plastic surgical procedure at a site that lacked appropriate emergency resuscitation and/or monitoring equipment.
  • Angel Prado, M.D. - Had his license revoked by the State Board of Professional Medical Conduct following an OPMC investigation that identified 44 counts of misconduct in the care provided to 10 patients. Dr. Prado displayed a pattern of negligence and fraud in his practice of medicine. He failed to document patient medical histories and assessments, as well as the care and treatments he provided to patients. Dr. Prado was found to have illegally billed a private insurance company for services never rendered and failed to document the medical necessity of a cosmetic surgical procedure. Dr. Prado was fined $40,000 in this case.
  • Jose Lopez, M.D. - Had his license revoked by the State Board of Professional Medical Conduct for a finding of gross and repeat negligence in the care of patients. Dr. Lopez was found to have used such poor surgical techniques during liposuction procedures that he caused harm to patients. In one case, he failed to properly treat a patient who developed a post-surgical infection, which resulted in the patient's hospitalization for approximately 10 weeks and an additional nine surgeries to correct Dr. Lopez's medical errors. He failed to ensure that patients were properly monitored during the administration of anesthesia. One patient went into cardiac arrest during surgery and subsequently died, and a second patient was kept in his office for 36 hours for post surgical continued lethargy before he drove the patient to the hospital for emergency care.

For additional information on doctor profiles and/or medical misconduct the public can visit the Department's web site at: www.health.ny.gov. Individuals who wish to file a complaint against a physician may call the Department's OPMC hotline at 1-800-663-6114.