Dr. Richard Haul is an American hero. However, in April 2012, to great media fanfare propagated by the New Jersey Attorney General (and now US Senator, appointed recently by Governor Chris Christie to fill the seat of the late Frank Lautenberg) Jeffrey Chiesa, my medical license was suspended by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, a 21-member board made up mostly of doctors who are appointed by the Governor.
The results are now unfolding in what are being called “The Spine Turf Wars” and the political and financial ties that are now being quietly referred to as “Jerseygate.”
It is no secret within the tightly regulated NJ medical community that my license suspension is a direct consequence of the vicious turf war between a small group of politically powerful and self-interested neurosurgeons and the larger but less organized minimally invasive pain physicians (MIPP) of which I am one.
The results of these actions have affected not only my employees and their families but also my patients — in New Jersey and the surrounding region — especially the ones I had been helping by providing free care if they did not have health insurance.
Who is behind all of this? The answer lies with New Jersey’s top government official, none other than Republican Governor Chris Christie, a current candidate for re-election, potential 2016 US Presidential candidate and recipient of a rumored $10 million in political donations from neurosurgeons and the big hospitals in the state.
First a little background: I was born in India into one of the country’s most powerful political families (I belong to the Nehru-Kaul Dynasty). I have long been lauded as a pioneer in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and performed the first outpatient spinal fusion in New Jersey. I am the Medical Director at The New Jersey Spine and Rehabilitation Surgical Center, an outpatient Ambulatory Surgical Center, where I have been revolutionizing Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. From 2005 to 2012, I successfully performed more than 800 minimally invasive spine surgeries, and effectively moved complex spine surgery into the outpatient setting. My cases have been featured in several international newspapers and magazines, and I have made several national television appearances.
I have been told that my medical training is as extensive as it is impressive. Dually trained in both the United Kingdom and the United States, after graduation from The Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in London in 1988, I underwent extensive post-graduate training in both the UK and the US in the fields of general surgery, anesthesia and interventional pain. During these early years of my career, it became obvious that the very poor patient outcomes associated with spine surgery (performed mostly by neurosurgeons) were due to the aggressive and invasive manner in which the procedures were performed. This, in turn, motivated me to find a more effective way to help patients that would involve a lot less destruction of the body’s muscle and bone. I also began to travel the world spending time with the pioneers and innovators in the emerging field of minimally invasive spine surgery.
I maintained positions as the Surgical House Officer and Medical House Officer at both the Lister Hospital and The Royal Free Hospital in the UK. After coming to America in 1989, I held several Residency and Attending positions at hospitals including Columbus Hospital, St. Claire’s Hospital and Hackensack University Medical Center. Throughout my training and career, I have traveled extensively educating doctors on my methods and instituting several new protocols for hospitals internationally.
After completing my education, I returned to the US in September 2001, where my practice began to focus on treating patients with chronic pain syndromes. Because what I observed up to this point so impressed me, I brought these techniques back to the US and began to successfully apply them in the ambulatory surgical setting.
In addition to my then-thriving practice, I founded The Spine Africa Project (SAP), a 501-3c non-profit organization to help the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after I made a trip there in 2008. This trip was prompted by a speech regarding the sexual violence against women in the Congo by Dr. Roger Luhiriri of The Panzi Hospital. During my visit, I was confronted by the shocking lack of protocol for spinal injuries at the hospitals and clinics throughout the Congo. Despite the alarmingly high rate of spinal injuries due to the dangerous working conditions, the injuries from the civil war that had permeated the Congo from Rwanda, no protocols existed for spine injuries. Consequently, the life expectancy for someone afflicted with a spine injury is less than two years.
I began performing procedures at the Panzi Hospital, whose Medical Director is Dr. Denis Mukwege, an internationally known Congolese physician celebrated for his humanitarian medical aid to violently abused female victims of rape and torture. Now, that work has been put on hold.
The “pay for play” culture within the Christie administration in turn, has had a direct consequence on the mortality rate of many in the Congo who could have been saved if I had been able to continue making trips to Bukavu, where I performed multiple procedures in the Panzi Hospital. Through the Spine Africa Project, my team and I were able to positively impact the lives of many affected residents and refugees of the Civil War. Now, the men, women and children of the Congo are desperate for the medical aid from the Spine Africa Project to resume.
The “pay for play” culture within the Christie administration in turn, has had a direct consequence on the mortality rate of many in the Congo who could have been saved if I had been able to continue making trips to Bukavu, where I performed multiple procedures in the Panzi Hospital.
The Christie administration is bowing to and helping push the interests of a small group of neurosurgeons (Dr. Robert Heary, former New Jersey Spine Society President; Dr. Gregory Przybylski, former president of the North American Spine Society NASS; and Dr. Peter Carmel, former President of the American Medical Association; and two other doctors) who embarked last year on a witch hunt to silence and prevent me from practicing medicine, not only in New Jersey but anywhere in the world. This battle with New Jersey that not only cost me personally, but also the taxpayers of the state, a cost to them in excess of $1 million.
Now coming to light is the truth of which neurosurgeon corrupted which physician on the medical board to bring about this 21st century equivalent of a lynching, an injustice that has hurt the healthcare of many and was intended to intimidate other MIPPs from developing high quality cost effective spine treatments?
Before my license was suspended, the philanthropic and business successes garnered significant positive media attention and simultaneously not-so-positive attention from the aforementioned small group of politically connected neurosurgeons, who are big donors to Christie and his wing of the Republican party. They viewed my practice as an immediate financial threat as more and more patients started to opt for the minimally invasive spine surgery that I did. What was even more alarming to this neurosurgical cabal was the fact that I was training other Interventional Pain Physicians and I wanted to establish a Minimally Invasive Spine Fellowship. For them, this had the potential to really affect their grossly elevated incomes and therefore, they had to find a way to take my medical license.
In 2008, I operated on a woman, and helped her to correct the painful problem from her previous surgery and multiple car accidents. She was able to walk the same day after the surgery and over the following weeks made an exceptional recovery. About eight weeks later she tripped on a fish tank at home sustaining an injury to her left leg. When she sued me, this fact she did not disclose.
After extensive testing, she was told she would be referred for physical therapy and it was at this time she consulted with a neurosurgeon by the name of Dr. Heary (no first name given), who practices with the Atlantic Neuroscience Institute and at UMDNJ in Newark, NJ.
Dr. Heary was one of the neurosurgeons who had already been trying to discredit me. He capitalized on a mistake from my past in the UK, for which I had already been punished, and manipulated this woman to file a complaint with the medical board while also referring her to a personal injury attorney by the name of John Hoyt to commence a malpractice lawsuit. Dr. Heary also manipulated his friends on the medical board to take action against me.
In 2009, the medical board discussed the case with me and Mr. Hoyt filed a malpractice suit on behalf of this woman against me, but the incident with the fish tank after I had operated ?on her was not disclosed.
Meanwhile, my practice continued to flourish. In 2011, I opened my own state-of-the-art surgical center in Pompton Lakes. As a result, Dr. Heary and his co-conspirators’ clandestine efforts became even more urgent. A back room discussion was had with Dr. Heary’s friends on the medical board and in April of last year —the medical board suspended my license.
Since last year, Dr. Heary has been dragged into the legal proceedings with this woman, and has made multiple attempts to ignore court subpoenas and orders to testify. After being issued a bench warrant arrest, he finally testified about his advice to to this woman. He also was forced to admit to his checkered past where he lied to a patient about his training and credentials to be qualified to perform a procedure, which subsequently paralyzed a 35-year old man and lost the case (Howard v. UMDNJ) and resulted in $5 million award in favor of the patient. That case ended up going to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Dr. Heary never lost his license.
As my license was suspended, I filed a lawsuit against Dr. Heary, Dr. Przybylski and Dr. Carmel for defamation of character and anti-trust. These doctors have said on numerous occasions that I am not qualified to be a doctor and that I am a murderer just because I am competition to their practice and billings, even though they know fully well that I have never had bad traumatic outcomes from spine procedures I have performed.
These doctors have accused me of not having the right credentials and have contradicted themselves on numerous occasions as to what constitutes “qualified” when doing minimally invasive spine procedures.
Dr. Przybylski, who was the State’s expert witness during the recent three-month long hearings in Newark, ended up being discredited during cross-examination by my attorney, Charles Shaw. Dr. Przybylski was forced to admit under oath that his expert view of “qualified” was basically full of hot air. This fact was further documented by the prestigious medical online publication, Orthopedics This Week, which sent its top writer, Walter Eisner, from Minneapolis to attend the court cross-examination of Dr. Przybylski in person.
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There are an increasing number of supporters who have signed a petition now being circulated online that will eventually be sent to Governor Christie. It speaks of the hardships for thousands of patients, both in New Jersey and in the Democratic Republic of The Congo, who have been left unable to receive the proper surgical care that I was able to give those suffering extreme pain before my license was suspended by the Medical Board at the behest of Governor Christie and his valuable plethora of financial donors — New Jersey-based neurosurgeons. To further destroy me, the attorney general has partnered with the auto insurance companies such as Geico and Allstate to help them get out of reimbursing me for procedures I had done prior to my license suspension.
This is the Spine Turf Wars and Governor Christie’s cover-up is “Jerseygate.” In a state that already has a shortage of doctors as healthcare costs continue to escalate, both a crisis and a scandal are on the cusp of breaking. The truth must be told.
At his suspension hearing, Dr. Kaul was cited by the NJ State Board of Medical Examiners as “having put the public at grave risk” for performing spinal surgery without proper training according to an NJ.com article.
During his license suspension, Dr. Kaul is organizing the aforementioned petition, which at time of publication had 269 signers on AVAAZ.org. His Facebook page had more than 7600 “likes” as this went to press.