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Surgeon Accused of Faking Operations Surrenders Medical License

Dr. Spyros Panos faced 250 counts of fraud and negligence.

ByABC News
September 5, 2013, 8:31 AM
Dr. Spyros Panos, accused of performing fake and negligent surgeries more than 250 times, surrendered his medical license this week.
Dr. Spyros Panos, accused of performing fake and negligent surgeries more than 250 times, surrendered his medical license this week.

Sept. 5, 2013— -- An orthopedic surgeon accused of faking operations surrendered his medical license voluntarily Monday and has admitted to guilt in some of the cases against him, according to New York State court documents.

Dr. Spyros Panos, who formerly worked for the Mid Hudson Medical Group in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., surrendered his license to practice medicine in New York this week following charges of medical misconduct. Panos faced at least 250 counts brought by the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct involving fraud and negligence between 2007 and 2011, the court order showed.

Doctor Accused of Faking Surgeries

Panos, 44, and his attorneys at Feldman, Kleidman & Coffey did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment. Representatives for the Mid Hudson Medical Group also failed to return calls for comment.

Larry Hughes, a spokesman for Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, where Panos performed many of the surgeries under investigation, said he was unaware of the surrender filing and couldn't comment.

In his response to the license surrender order, Panos admitted that he failed to render appropriate care, didn't maintain accurate medical records and submitted bills for seven former patients for which he was not entitled to payment. The identities of the patients were redacted from court documents to maintain their privacy.

The response also stated that Panos cannot "successfully defend against" at least one alleged act of misconduct "in full satisfaction of the charges" and that the surrender allows him to "resolve this matter without the various risks and burdens of a hearing on the merits."

"It is a rare occurrence for the OPMC to put this type of pressure on a physician and for the physician to lose his license," said J.T. Wisell, an attorney for 154 of the more than 250 plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits accusing Panos of performing botched or unnecessary surgeries, or pretending to perform surgeries that never actually took place.

The Federation of State Medical Boards, which represents 70 state medical boards, reported that of the three quarter of a million practicing physicians in the United States, only 1,905 of them lost their licenses to practice medicine in 2011. Of the more than 88,000 physicians who practiced in New York State that same year, just 185 -- less than one percent -- lost their licenses.

Fake Surgeries Are Rare but Hard to Spot

Panos was terminated from his employer, Mid Hudson Medical Group, in 2011 and is also the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, although he has not been charged with a criminal offense, Wisell said.

His alleged victims say they are grateful that he's out of business, at least in New York.

"I'm glad someone finally stopped him," said Debra Cole, a retired telephone company technician who is suing Panos for allegedly performing two faked knee surgeries and causing her years of unnecessary pain. "To do everything he's allegedly done and to be able to continue to operate on other people, it was just terrible."

Debra Nenni McNamee, whose mother, Constance Nenni, died less than 24-hours after having an alleged "phantom" knee surgery performed by Panos said she hoped Panos' license surrender would start a domino effect.

"Now maybe the other medical professionals and facilities involved who allowed him to do what he did will be held accountable or come forward to prove they are not guilty," she said.

Arthur Caplin, the director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center and a former non-MD representative with the New York State medical licensing board, said he also found it troubling that others besides Panos aren't under investigation.