NEWARK, N.J., May 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The State of New Jersey is prosecuting the case against Dr. Richard Kaul, a successful UK-born doctor who is seen by many patients and colleagues around the world as a pioneer in minimally invasive spine surgery. Until his license was suspended last year because of a perceived lack of credentials to practice endoscopic procedures, Kaul was operating out of several ambulatory surgical centers in the state. Interestingly, it was reported yesterday in the NY Post that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's chosen surgeon for his recent lap band procedure is himself a pioneer in minimally invasive weight loss procedures. Like Dr. Kaul, Dr. George Fielding operates out of an ambulatory surgical center, where Gov. Christie had his procedure done. Now suddenly, just days after the successful out-patient procedure, the past of this Australian-born doctor is suddenly being hashed about by media with accusations of "sloppy care" resulting in numerous deaths, and he is being sued by numerous patients. Christie, in response said, "He told me he's done over 5,000 of the surgeries and he had the surgery himself. He kinda (sic) sold me in this respect."
Meanwhile, Christie refuses to address why this doctor's past is suddenly being called into question. There is already speculation that one or more of Dr. Fielding's unhappy competitors have gone on the offense to expose these "imperfections" in his record. It seems that turf wars within the most lucrative fields of medicine are being fought and the internet is the battlefield as reputation assassination of good doctors has become commonplace.
The issue of when a doctor can administer new techniques and procedures is not new. One such standout example is that of Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the man who performed the first heart transplant in 1967 and died in 2001. "Dr. Barnard's surgical skill and daring catapulted him almost overnight into the role of international savant, and his views on almost everything from global politics to jogging were eagerly sought by heads of state, the United States Congress and the general public," says his obituary in The New York Times. Yet when he pioneered the groundbreaking procedure, he was pilloried. Today, heart transplants are commonplace, with high success rates.
Why would Governor Chris Christie choose the option to pursue new techniques, albeit somewhat controversial, for his own treatment, while simultaneously standing by as his Attorney General's office prosecutes a case against Dr. Kaul, whose reputation is so similar to that of Dr. Fielding's. The answer can only lie in the fact that there is a double standard being applied. Kaul's practice has bitten into the financial turf of some of the State's neurosurgeons and established local hospitals. This 'old guard' is leveraging their connections to New Jersey's political establishment to fight back. Kaul, for his part, has sued several local doctors, including the State's primary witness against him, Dr. Gregory P Przybylski. Upon cross-examination, Przybylski acknowledged that the field of minimally invasive spine surgery is quickly evolving and there are no established credentials that ensure doctors' competence. The resulting costly confusion combined with dirty backroom dealing by politicians, certain doctors and the greed-driven attorneys is further documented in a recent article by Walter Eisner in Orthopedics This Week, which speaks directly to the spine turf wars going on now in New Jersey.
The governor appoints the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, which uses the State's AG as it's legal counsel. Doreen Hafner, Esq, who is prosecuting the case, has accused Kaul of being a threat of "imminent danger". She bases her position on what she says is his lack of credentials, while at the same time being unable to define what those credentials are since the science and technology is still evolving.
Dr. Solomon Kamson, president of the Society for Advanced Spinal Intervention (SASI), who himself has been victimized by the world of doctors who "play dirty" against competing doctors, has a mission to prevent more of these escalating and costly turf wars. Dr. Kamson advocates providing mentoring, guidelines and credentials in the endoscopic spine field. Dr. Kamson says, "Medicine has always progressed as a result of doctors who think outside the box." Dr. Kamson believes the doctors who operate out of well-credentialed small ambulatory surgical centers offer the "best quality, most cost-effective care utilizing the latest advanced technology." Dr. Kamson says, "It is the future of health care."
Why did Chris Christie choose Dr. Fielding and forego entering one of the state's mega hospitals? Perhaps he knows something the attorney general doesn't, or doesn't want to admit to.
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