The state medical licensure board on Thursday denied a doctor's request to dismiss allegations of fraud, negligence and incompetence, despite his attorney saying the board has acted in an unfair and biased manner.
In 2010, the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision filed a complaint against Dr. Steven C. Anagnost, an orthopedic surgeon in Tulsa.
Board officials said it was somewhat unprecedented for a case to take nearly three years to come before them. Board members on Thursday voted to hear Anagnost's case Feb. 21 through Feb. 23.
At Thursday's meeting, the board denied Anagnost's attorney Barry Smith's request to dismiss and terminate proceedings.
Smith said the medical board's job, as defined by law, is to protect the public. Making a doctor wait nearly three years to hear his case is not serving the public, he said.
Smith said a medical board investigator, while building the case, approached some of Anagnost's competitors in Tulsa and asked them to review about 140 of Anagnost's patient cases, looking for the worst outcomes.
Smith said based on his review, there has been no other physician that has seen such a delay in a case nor has there been a physician whose competitors were approached to review cases.
“I submit that no physician, no matter how good they are, has a reputation that can survive this process,” Smith said. “It wasn't done to protect the public ... It was not transparent. It wasn't fair, and if it appears impartial and unfair, we believe under the law, the state is obligated to dismiss the case.”
Anagnost specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, a relatively new approach that has met some resistance from the established medical community, Smith said.
In the most recent complaint filed against Anagnost, the medical board lists 23 patients who have suffered various injuries after Anagnost treated them, according to court records.
One patient had to have her right leg amputated below the knee because of Anagnost's “failure to adequately treat the infection,” according to court records. A few of the patients listed in the board's complaint suffered from paralysis after receiving treatment from Anagnost.
Anagnost also has several medical malpractice cases against him in Tulsa County.
Daniel Graves, independent counsel for the Oklahoma attorney general's office, said Thursday that the investigation against Anagnost has been rather significant.
Graves said there have been 42 separate negligence filings against Anagnost over a six- to eight-year period, a somewhat unprecedented number of cases.
“This has not been, as it has been described in the pleadings, as some sort of ‘witch hunt,'” Graves said. “The outcomes of these surgeries have ranged from death, paralysis, amputations. There's a significant amount of harm that has come to these patients. I understand there can be bad outcomes in orthopedic surgery or any surgery, but in these instances, it appears there are significant matters that need to be presented to this board.”
In other business
The board scheduled a special meeting for the disciplinary hearing of Dr. Medhat Michael, an Edmond doctor who faces complaints of sexual misconduct reported by patients and co-workers.
Michael was arrested in December on four complaints of sexual battery from co-workers. He told The Oklahoman in December that the allegations were false.
Contributing: Diana Baldwin, Staff Writer