500 Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Say Spinal Surgeon Hurt Patients

Abubaker Atiq Durrani, a well-regarded spinal surgeon in Cincinnati, is now facing nearly 500 medical malpractice lawsuits, along with a federal indictment over charging Medicare and Medicaid programs for millions in fraudulent surgical claims. The owner of private surgical practices in Ohio and Kentucky, Durrani has been accused of convincing hundreds of patients to undergo medically unnecessary surgeries. Some of the procedures were even “botched,” former patients told reporters at WCPO Cincinnati, leaving them in far worse health than before.

Facing Hundreds Of Malpractice Lawsuits, Surgeon Flees To Pakistan

The only problem? Durrani has fled to Pakistan, his native country, and government officials are having a hard time hailing him back into US courts. The medical malpractice lawsuits against him, however, are proceeding. Alongside Durrani himself, many of the lawsuits have been filed against the surgeon’s former employers, which include some of the nation’s most-prestigious medical institutions, like Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital. The cases are gathered in an Ohio state court, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas.

Durrani fled to his home country in 2013 after being hounded by a federal inquiry into fraudulent insurance claims, Cincinnati.com reports. That year, the surgeon saw himself indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false claims to private and public health insurance programs. As a local Fox affiliate wrote, the indictment accused Durrani of persuading patients that surgical intervention was their only hope of survival, despite surgery being unnecessary. Apparently, several patients were even told that, without immediate surgical intervention, their heads would fall off in a car accident. Attorneys are now questioning whether or not Durrani ever graduated from a medical school at all.

The doctor also downplayed the significance of his procedures, misrepresenting potential complications in office visits, federal prosecutors said. In another count, government officials accuse Durrani of signing blank prescription pads and allowing other people to write prescriptions for narcotic painkillers while he was outside the US.

Extraditing “Butcher” Surgeon From Pakistan Will Prove Difficult

In order to stand trial, Durrani, who has been labeled a “butcher” by plaintiff’s attorneys, will need to be extradited. Relations between the US and Pakistan on that point, however, are strained. While the two countries have technically shared an extradition treaty since 1931, officials in Pakistan are less than willing to recognize it.

The nature of the treaty is remarkably complex. The extradition treaty to which US officials point was actually signed by the United Kingdom, when the Indian subcontinent was still under British colonial rule. At that time, any agreements into which the United Kingdom entered applied equally to all British colonial territories. After decades of protest, however, Britain’s hold over the region crumbled, leading to the 1947 partition of the area into two independent nation-states, India and Pakistan. The colonial government’s arrangements with other nations, including the US extradition treaty, were left in limbo.

Whether or not Pakistan “inherited” the UK’s extradition treaty with the US is a long-standing debate in the country. In 2002, former president General Pervez Musharraf denied the treaty’s formal existence, refusing to extradite Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a jihadist indicted for the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Recent Pakistani administrations have looked on the matter more favorably. A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office acknowledged the existence of an extradition treaty in 2010, according to Dawn, Pakistan’s leading news source, noting a 1973 accord between the two nations that allowed for the peaceful transfer of fugitives.

Even with this admission, US officials have their work cut out for them in extraditing Dr. Durrani.

Negligence, Not Intentional Harm, Spurs Most Malpractice Cases

Few cases of medical malpractice involve such outright misconduct. In fact, many lawsuits filed over medical errors don’t involve any intentional wrongdoing at all. Doctors like Abubaker Atiq Durrani and Farid Fata, who appear to have harmed patients for unethical reasons, are relatively rare. Far more common are doctors who make needlessly careless mistakes, but injure their patients nonetheless. Negligence, a failure to uphold the accepted standards of the medical profession, is far-and-away the leading theory on which medical malpractice cases are based.

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