Doctor allegedly used single-use anal catheters on multiple patients

A surgeon from Middlesex, New Jersey, had his license suspended at the end of last month due to allegations he put patient health and safety at risk by reusing single-use catheters for anorectal exams on multiple patients.

People undergo this procedure – an "anorectal manometry" – when they feel constipated, are suffering from bowel control problems or could have other issues with this part of the body. Medical processionals place a small balloon at the end of the catheter inside the patient's rectum – which they could inflate to test for reflex function – while the other end is hooked up to a pressure-measuring machine.

The doctor in question, Dr. Sanjiv K. Patankar, allegedly washed and re-used these catheters on at least five patients prior to throwing them away because replacements were on backorder, and his testing equipment is out of date, according to a complaint from the state. The decision to suspend his license came after testimony and evidence review during a hearing earlier in December. Patankar's office couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

"Dr. Patankar's alleged conduct not only violates professional standards, it reveals an alarming lack of judgment that calls into question his fitness to practice," Sharon Joyce, acting director of the state's Division of Consumer Affairs, said in a statement. "By temporarily suspending his license, the Board fulfilled its duty to protect the public from this practitioner while these very disturbing allegations are pending."

According to the allegations, Patankar told his medical assistants to wash the catheters with soap and water, put them in a bleach solution for 30 minutes, rinse and air dry. After that, they went into their original packaging for reuse. Despite discrepancies in testimony during the hearing, a committee of the State Board of Medical Examiners took the state's side and resolved them. Documents showed that for the 82 procedures done between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2017, just five catheters had been ordered.

The committee says Patankar has to give the board a list of patients who received the anorectal manometry testing between Jan. 1, 2011 until present day. It also gave him an option: If he could show evidence he ordered catheters for all of the 82 procedures that took place between that January to November period, it would reconsider its decision.

Patankar's license will be suspended until a full hearing on the allegations takes place in the Office of Administrative Law. He received a 30-day period where he can still practice in a hospital, though he must show the board he is sending patients to other doctors.

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