As it does each year, Medscape has recognized 26 of the best and worst physicians in medicine, healthcare, research and health policy.
The “best” include leaders and groundbreakers in psychiatry, oncology and health economics, whereas the “worst” includes those who faced criminal charges from murder to Medicare fraud.
Here’s who made the “worst” category.
“Worst” of 2017
- Christopher Duntsch, MD. Duntsch, a neurosurgeon in Dallas, was sentenced to life in prison for maiming a woman in a spinal procedure. Dr. Duntsch was found guilty of aggravated assault and injury to the elderly. He had previously botched operations that left two patients dead and several others paralyzed.
- David Ming Pon, MD. Pon, an ophthalmologist in Jacksonville, Fla., was sentenced to 10 years in prison for cheating Medicare out of nearly $10 million. Dr. Pon told approximately 600 patients they needed surgery to repair eye conditions they did not have and faked the treatments he billed for.
- Gary Marder, DO. Marder, a dermatologist in Palm Beach County, Fla., allegedly diagnosed and treated patients for skin cancer they didn’t have and pocketed millions from Medicare and other insurers.
- Larry Nassar, DO. Nassar, former team physician for the Michigan State University gymnastics and women’s crew teams and USA Gymnastics Team physician through four Olympics Games, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct under the guise of medical treatment.
- Aria Sabit, MD. Sabit, a spine surgeon in Detroit, was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for admitting to performing fake and unnecessary operations. Dr. Sabit persuaded patients to undergo spinal fusion surgery, but diagnostic imaging revealed he never installed the hardware to achieve fusion.
- John Couch, MD. Couch, a physician in Alabama, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of prescribing painkillers, including a fentanyl sublingual spray, for no legitimate purpose.
- Jacques Roy, MD. Roy, a physician from Rockwell, Texas, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for creating a home-health scam that generated $375 million worth of Medicaid and Medicare billings. Prosecutors said Dr. Roy’s practice, called Medistat, fraudulently approved 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries to receive care from approximately 500 home-health agencies.
- Ronald Wheeler, MD. Wheeler, a urologist who specialized in the treatment of prostate cancer, was charged with practicing medicine without a license in Sarasota, Fla. His medical license had been revoked in April after the state was concerned he was diagnosing and treating prostate cancer without a biopsy confirmation of the disease.
- Bernard Greenspan, DO. Greenspan, a physician from River Edge, N.J., was sentenced to 41 months in prison over accepting $200,000 in bribes over seven years for blood specimens. Dr. Greenspan was found guilty of violating the federal antikickback statute and related crimes.
- Abdul Haq, MD. Haq, a physician from Ypsilanti, Mich., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud for his role in a $19 million healthcare scheme. Dr. Haq admitted he was a co-conspirator to prescribe medically unnecessary controlled substances, including oxycodone and hydrocodone.
- Roberto Fernandez, MD. Fernandez, a physician in Miami, was sentenced to 97 months in prison for Medicare fraud and will have to pay $4.8 million in restitution. Dr. Fernandez admitted he received kickbacks from a pharmacy in exchange for referring patients there to fill prescriptions he wrote, including high cost antipsychotics and drugs for HIV/AIDS patients.
- Elizabeth Wettlaufer, former RN. Wettlaufer pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of eight nursing home residents in Ontario, Canada. She told the judge she injected the victims with insulin without medical reason.