"You can't perform this many suspect surgeries without the cooperation of many other people," he said.
Brian Brown, McNamee's attorney, said Panos used patients like her mother as human cash registers, scheduling as many as 22 surgeries a day. The average orthopedic surgeon typically schedules no more than 32 procedures a month, according to American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons statistics.
Attorneys Brown and Wisell noted that clients with potential cases against Panos began flooding their offices with calls immediately after journalist Sarah Bradshaw wrote about the first few lawsuits for the Poughkeepsie Journal in September 2010. Bradshaw said she was tipped off to the litigation from an anonymous source.
Wisell said the latest developments should help the plaintiffs' cases finally move forward after two years. But the lawsuits are by no means a slam dunk because there is still a legal stay in place that prevents plantiff's attorneys from taking sworn statements from any employee and former employee of the Mid Hudson Medical Group or any hospital where Panos practiced, Wisell said.
The stay was put in place for Panos to avoid self incrimination in the federal cases of fraud and billing irregularities, Wisell said. Mid Hudson Medical Group and the various hospitals and surgical centers where Panos practiced have submitted billing records, surgical records and surgical schedule logs to plantiff's lawyers but under the stay, are not yet required to directly respond to civil actions, Wisell said.
Brown agreed, stating, "While this demonstrates that Dr. Panos is finally willing to admit some guilt, it is clear from their legal strategy that his former medical-group, MHMG, the hospitals involved and their legal team are not. So they shamelessly continue to drag the victims through a tortured litigation process and avoid taking simple responsibility for their profit-driven failures."
Wisell also noted that Panos still has a license to practice medicine in Virginia. While he is legally obligated to keep the Virginia state medical board up to date about the legal consequences in New York, Wisell said it could take some time before any action was taken and there is no federal mandate that stops Panos from practicing medicine in other states.
McNamee said taking away Panos' license is a start, but it's not enough.
"He wakes up every morning spending the illegal funds he collected while his victims wake up every day in pain," McNamee said. "In my mother's case, all we have are memories."