Amid allegations of patients who were paralyzed, died or underwent unnecessary medical treatment, a Tulsa orthopedic surgeon left a state medical board hearing on Thursday with his medical license intact.
Dr. Steven Anagnost told The Oklahoman after Thursday's meeting that he was allowed to keep his license because the allegations against him are not true.
“There's no basis to these claims,” he said, alleging that surgery competitors were trying to turn the board against him for their own financial gain.
Anagnost, who practiced minimally invasive spine surgery in Tulsa, has been locked in a three-year battle with the state Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision over allegations that he was not a competent doctor.
After about 45 minutes in executive session, board members voted 4-3 Thursday to reach an agreement with Anagnost. Through the agreement, known as a voluntary submittal to jurisdiction, Anagnost was allowed to keep his medical license by agreeing to complete a spine fellowship at an accredited facility before reopening his surgical practice. He also agreed to pay a $10,000 fine.
The medical board released an email statement from Executive Director Lyle Kelsey.
“Allegations like these are very serious and will always be vetted and investigated fully. We are committed to our mission to serve, inform and empower Oklahomans through information and promotion of high standards in medical care,” Kelsey said. “While the outcome of this particular case is not ideal, considering all factors, the Board believes their mission to protect and serve the public was fully upheld with the settlement reached, which includes a monetary fine and costs, and requires Dr. Anagnost to successfully complete a nationally recognized spine fellowship program.”
The medical board holds meetings for disciplinary hearings with doctors about seven times a year.
In July, Anagnost sued the medical board, calling the board's conduct against him “extraordinary and egregious.” In a 44-page petition, Anagnost and his attorneys outline their actions over the past three years.
The medical board “has repeatedly violated Dr. Anagnost's due process, equal protection and other legal and equitable rights,” the document reads.
Anagnost said that after he filed his case against the board, the state attorney general got involved with the case.
“What the board couldn't do in 31/2, almost four years, the attorney general's office cleared up within less than 30 days by working with us and realizing there wasn't merit to these accusations, that all these accusations had a lot of financial incentives behind them that were not truthful.”
On Thursday, Anagnost agreed to no longer pursue his case against the board. The board, in turn, entered into the consent order with Anagnost.
For the past three years, Anagnost has been on the board's agenda, facing a range of allegations. During that time, Anagnost has not lost his license nor has he been under probation.
Anagnost said the board began its investigation into him after his competitors and medical malpractice lawyers made up lies about him.
Anagnost said minimally invasive spine surgery is a less expensive and more effective option for patients. His competitors were losing money, and thus began a “smear campaign,” he said.
Anagnost said he stopped his surgical practice not because he was required by the board, but because he had to focus on defending himself.
In one of the board's complaints against Anagnost, a board investigator outlines 23 patients who saw Anagnost and suffered from a range of symptoms after surgery, according to the document.
In one case, a patient died about a week after surgery. The patient was sent home too early and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he went into cardiopulmonary arrest, suffered brain injury and was determined to be brain dead, according to the board's complaint.
Ten days after that man died, Anagnost performed a similar surgery that resulted in another man suffering brain damage that caused permanent disability, according to the complaint.
Also among the 23 cases, there were patients who had a recalled medical device inserted into their backs.
But Anagnost said these 23 patients are out of 7,000 patients he saw over a 10-year period, which factors out to roughly 0.3 percent of patients.
“My statistical data of how well I've performed compared to other doctors in my community and other doctors nationally, I outperform them in pretty much every single criteria that we use to evaluate doctors,” Anagnost said.
All these accusations had a lot of financial incentives behind them that were not truthful.”
Dr. Steven Anagnost,