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10 Monstrous Doctors Who Mutilated Their Patients

by Sam Dunsmore
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Most doctors are consummate professionals who’ve bettered the lives of many. Whether they’re saving the day in the ER or plying their skill to give grandpa many more years with his grandchildren, many doctors have made a positive difference.

Some doctors, however, do not care for their patients at all. A few only see an opportunity to make money, while others enjoy inflicting pain on their patients. These monstrous medical professionals often permanently injured those they were supposed to treat, leaving them scarred, disfigured, or even paralyzed.

10 James Burt

In 1975, James Burt published Surgery of Love, in which he wrote, “Women are structurally inadequate for intercourse. This is a pathological condition amenable to surgery.” The surgery in question often included removing the hood of a patient’s clitoris, repositioning the vagina, moving the urethra, and altering the walls between the rectum and vagina. Burt performed this surgery on hundreds of women—without their knowledge or consent.

Cheryl Dillon went to Burt when she had a bladder problem. He talked her into having a hysterectomy; however, Burt intended to do much more. He performed a nine-hour operation, relocating Dillon’s vagina and removing her clitoral hood. She woke up in agonizing pain, and she was barely conscious for the five days following the procedure. The operation made ordinary activities impossible: She could no longer sit down, wear pants, or have sex without excruciating pain.

Janet Phillips also visited Burt for a hysterectomy. During her surgery, Burt cut the nerves to her bladder, which left her unable to sense when it was full, requiring her to go to the bathroom every two hours. Phillips developed bladder and urinary infections, and the friction of her clothes against her genital area left her in constant pain. She went to another gynecologist, Bradley Busacco, for relief.

Busacco was horrified when he examined Phillips’s genitals. Her reproductive organs were so maimed, torn, and distorted that they no longer resembled normal human anatomy.[1] Busacco filed a complaint with the state medical board against Burt. Burt surrendered his medical license in 1988, and Ohio state officials forced him to sign a statement declaring he never would seek a license to practice in any other state.

9 Christopher Duntsch

Christopher Duntsch worked as a surgeon for nearly two decades. During that time, he earned the scorn of his colleagues, who called him the “worst surgeon I’ve ever seen” and a “sociopath” who was a “clear and present danger to patients.”

Duntsch performed a spinal fusion on one of his childhood friends, Jerry Summers. During the surgery, he sliced into one of the arteries running down Summers’s spine, which caused massive bleeding. When Summers woke up, he could not move his arms or legs. Instead of ordering scans to find out what was wrong, Duntsch moved onto other patients—a delay that likely cost Summers the use of his arms and legs.

Duntsch’s surgical career finally came to a halt after his operation on Jeffrey Glidewell. During the surgery, Duntsch performed so poorly that the rest of the operating team had to physically restrain him to stop him from continuing.[2] Glidewell spent the next two days lying unattended in the intensive care unit while Duntsch made excuses to the family. Glidewell’s family demanded another surgeon, Randall Kirby.

Kirby was appalled with Duntsch’s work. Not only had Duntsch cut into Glidewell’s vertebral artery, but he had also cut into Glidewell’s throat in the wrong area, and saliva and pus were coming out of the wound. An MRI found that Duntsch had left a sponge festering in Glidewell’s throat.

Kirby reported Duntsch to the Texas Medical Board, which launched an investigation, discovering his history of botching procedures. Duntsch’s medical license was revoked in 2013. He was found guilty of intentionally injuring his patients, and he was sentenced to life in prison in 2017.

8 Farid Fata

Photo credit: The Detroit News

Michigan doctor Farid Fata diagnosed Maggie Dorsey with multiple myeloma, and he recommended that she undergo intense chemotherapy. The treatment left her a shadow of her former self: She has chronic pain, weakness and tremors. She can no longer cook, clean, write, or comb her daughter’s hair. Some days, she cannot even stand.[3]

Dorsey later learned that she’d never had multiple myeloma. She was just one of many patients that Fata falsely diagnosed to make money off of chemotherapy treatments. Patty Hester, another of Fata’s patients, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome—a precursor to leukemia—after Fata falsified her bone marrow test results. The treatments left her with chronic hair loss and gum tissue problems.

One of the doctors who worked for Fata’s cancer center reported him to the US Department of Justice, and Fata was arrested. During Fata’s trial, the court discovered that he had also overtreated terminal cancer patients rather than letting them die peacefully. One of his patients was given 195 chemotherapy treatments, 177 of which were unnecessary. The treatments left the patient in poor health: She has bladder and bowel issues and stage three chronic kidney disease.

The US Attorney’s Office had initially identified 553 victims but noted there could be more, given that Fata’s practice treated 17,000 patients through seven locations. Fata pleaded guilty in 2014 to poisoning hundreds of patients intentionally through unnecessary treatment, and he was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

7 Graeme Reeve

Photo credit: News Corp Australia

Graeme Reeve received 35 complaints over a 15-year period from other doctors, nurses, and patients, and in 1997, he was ordered by the New South Wales medical board to cease practicing medicine. However, in 2001, he took a job as a specialist obstetrician and gynecologist.

Carolyn DeWaegeneire scheduled an operation with Reeve in 2002 to have a small patch of precancerous skin removed from her labia. Before the surgery began, he leaned down and whispered to her, “I’m going to take your clitoris, too.” DeWaegeneire, who was going under due to the anesthesia, could do nothing to stop him. During the surgery, he cut away all of her external genitalia. A nurse asked him why he was removing so much, and he replied, “Her husband’s dead so it doesn’t matter.” [4] The operation left DeWaegeneire with impaired urinary function.

Marilyn Hawkins also visited Reeve in 2002, complaining of a slight bladder problem. Reeve told her that she required a major gynecological operation. Hawkins was horrified with the surgery’s results: “He stitched me up like an old blanket,” she said. “I was in such agony after the operation that I could hardly sit down for about a month. He also stitched up my vagina so tight that I couldn’t have sex.” After the surgery, she found it more difficult to control her bladder, and she suffered a breakdown.

Reeve was accused of sexual harassment and botching procedures on hundreds of women. He was struck off the medical register, and he served 11 months in prison.

6 Aria Sabit

Photo credit: Romain Blanquart

Neurosurgeon Aria Sabit originally practiced in California but ended up facing more than two dozen medical malpractice suits. Sabit moved to Michigan in 2011 and took a job running the Michigan Brain and Spine Physician’s Group.

Tonocca Scott went to the group in 2012 for treatment for his bad back. Sabit recommended a spinal fusion, and Scott scheduled the surgery. The operation left Scott with tingling in his toes, the back of his right leg, and his buttocks. He told Sabit that it felt “like my blood is boiling in my legs.”[5] Scott went to another doctor, who discovered that the fusion had not been performed.

Investigators found that Sabit had a financial stake in a company that made spinal devices. Sabit frequently recommended that patients undergo a spinal fusion, and he failed to insert the device, saving himself quite a bit of money. Sabit billed millions in fraudulent claims.

Sabit had hundreds of victims, many of whom were left with constant pain. He pleaded guilty, and in January 2017, he was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison.

5 Jacobus Van Nierop

Photo credit: Christophe Masson/AP

Locals were initially delighted when Jacobus van Nierop moved to their small town. However, the horror stories soon began. Patients claimed that van Nierop had frequently performed unnecessary procedures, which left them in agony.

In 2012, Sylviane Boulesteix arrived at van Nierop’s dental office, and, without warning, the dentist pulled eight of her healthy teeth out and immediately fixed dentures on her raw gums. She gushed blood for hours, and van Nierop refused to relieve her pain.

Boulesteix and more than 100 people filed complaints against van Nierop, accusing him of removing multiple healthy teeth, leaving pieces of drills in their gums and teeth, causing abscesses, and creating misshapen mouths.

Van Nierop fled to Canada in 2014, but he was eventually extradited back to France. The court heard van Nierop’s patients’ stories of how the dentist had drugged them and mutilated their mouths as they slept in his chair.[6] The judges convicted van Nierop of 85 counts of assault, including 45 counts of mutilation, and of 61 counts of fraud. Van Nierop was banned from practicing dentistry and fined €10,500.

4 Ian Paterson

Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA

Cheryl Iommi first met Ian Paterson in 2003, when she was having lumps removed from her right breast. Paterson operated on her, and he told her that she appeared to be developing cancer. Iommi scheduled another surgery. When she woke up, she discovered Paterson had operated on both of her breasts. Paterson told her that she’d had a lump in her left breast, too.

Iommi was initially grateful for Paterson’s work; however, she was horrified with the results of the surgery. The operation left a large “dent” in her side.[7] She had reconstructive surgery, but she was not satisfied with the results. Iommi later found out that her second surgery from Paterson was unnecessary: the lumps in her breasts were scar tissue left behind from his botched procedures.

Paterson’s colleagues began to worry about the surgeon when they noticed he was not removing enough breast tissue during lumpectomies and mastectomies, increasing the risk of cancer recurring. Paterson claimed that he had developed his own version of the operation—a “cleavage-saving” mastectomy.

Paterson’s employers launched an investigation against him, and they discovered Paterson’s history of performing unnecessary surgeries. Paterson was arrested. A Nottingham crown court jury found him guilty in 2017, and he was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison. Hundreds of civil claims were filed by his victims, and his insurance had to pay out tens of millions of dollars.

3 Spyros Panos

Photo credit: ABC News

New York Orthopedic surgeon Spyros Panos wanted to make as much money as possible. He routinely saw at least 60 patients in a single office day and sometimes saw more than 90. Panos also performed as many as 20 or more surgical procedures in a single day, and he often failed to complete his operations.

Panos performed several surgeries on both of Pam Bisaccia’s Achilles tendons; however, unbeknownst to Bisaccia, he did not complete the procedures. The incomplete surgeries left Bisaccia in constant pain, and she is no longer able to walk because, “Each step feels like walking on hot coals.”[8] She fears she will end up bedridden.

Bisaccia and hundreds of Panos’s other patients filed lawsuits against the surgeon, accusing him of botching surgeries, performing unnecessary operations on healthy patients, and prolonging their ailments. Panos pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison in 2014, and he was ordered to surrender his medical licenses. Panos’s patients settled their lawsuit against him for $45 million.

2 Michael Rosin

Photo credit: CNBC

Florida doctor Michael Rosin specialized in Mohs micrographic surgery, which is a technique that eradicates skin cancer by removing multiple layers of skin. Rosin developed a scam in which he falsely diagnosed skin cancer, surgically removed skin from his patients, and then billed their insurance for the procedures.

Rosin repeatedly abused his patients, forcing many of them to undergo multiple operations. Thirteen of his patients underwent surgery at least 20 times each, and one patient underwent 122 procedures over 20 years. None of them ever questioned how every biopsy they took could be positive.

His staff, however, became suspicious when they realized that Rosin found skin cancer in more than 99 percent of his patients’ skin samples.[9] One of his employees made one slide with a Styrofoam sample and another with a piece of chewed bubble gum on it; Rosin diagnosed both as cancerous. His employees reported him.

Rosin was found guilty on 70 counts of health care fraud in 2006. He was ordered to pay $7.2 million in fines and restitution, and he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

1 Glen Tucker

Glen Tucker was working as a plastic surgeon in Milwaukee in 1978 when Jan Lehman was brought into the ER with a broken nose. Tucker told Lehman that she needed immediate surgery. Without waiting for the swelling to go down—which was standard procedure—he gave her pain medication and prepped her for the operation. Lehman woke up in agony.

Lehman visited Tucker every week for two months, and she underwent another surgery. As time passed, she found it more and more difficult to breathe. While she was waiting for Tucker in an exam room, she blew her nose, and a large amount of neon yellow pus came out. Tucker walked into the room, and she told him something was not right. Tucker looked calmly at her, smiled, and said, “The tissue is perfectly clear, Jan. You just don’t want to get better.”[10]

Lehman realized that something was wrong with Tucker. She left the room, and she made an appointment with another doctor. He examined her, and he found the gauze Tucker had left in her nose months before. It was yellow and festering with infection.

Lehman spent weeks fighting the infections and abscesses in her sinuses. Tucker’s treatments had left her nose cartilage so mangled that one side of her nose would eventually collapse, and Lehman would awaken with cartilage protruding from her skin.

More than a dozen patients filed malpractice suits against Tucker. One man, who was suffering from spasms in his arm, saw Tucker for an operation. The surgery went so bad that the man lost the use of his arm, and it had to be amputated above the elbow.

Another patient visited Tucker for breast augmentation in 1979. Her breasts became infected, leading to two more unsuccessful surgeries. One time, Tucker jabbed an 18-centimeter (7 in) needle into her breast without anesthetic, and he ripped part of an implant out of an incision—without any pain medication. One of the patient’s breasts ended up square-shaped, and both were terribly scarred.

In 1982, as the malpractice suits piled up, Tucker disappeared during a fishing trip, and a funeral was held a few days later. A few years later, a journalist doing a report on hospital infections discovered that Tucker was still alive. More than two decades after that, he shot his wife, their cat, and himself.

fact checked by Jamie Frater