A Passaic County anesthesiologist who the state says put patients in danger by performing spinal surgery without the proper training agreed to stop doing all but the most minor surgery until a full hearing on the state's allegations is held.
Richard A. Kaul, 47, who owns the New Jersey Spine and Rehabilitation Center in Pompton Lakes, will no longer perform or assist in any spinal surgery, including interventional pain management, according to an interim agreement he signed with state regulators.
The only procedures he is allowed to do are those that require no anesthesia, though he could operate in a hospital if he successfully obtained hospital privileges. He is allowed to administer anesthesia in procedures for which he is not the surgeon, according to the agreement that took effect Wednesday.
He has been accused of gross negligence, malpractice and incompetence, based on five cases detailed in the state's complaint. One patient was "left a cripple in constant agonizing pain," according to court documents in a malpractice suit. The state says he lacked the training necessary to perform spinal surgery.
Robert Conroy, Kaul's attorney, said he planned to answer each of the state's allegations. The voluntary agreement signified no admission of wrongdoing, he said.
The state Board of Medical Examiners "acted to protect the public through restricting Dr. Kaul's ability to perform spinal and other specific procedures," Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a prepared statement. "If Dr. Kaul had not agreed to these restrictions, we were prepared to ask the board to take action against his license."
Kaul faced a possible suspension of his medical license — for the second time — when the Board of Medical Examiners met Wednesday. The board previously suspended his license for six months in 2003 when it learned that he had not disclosed a conviction for manslaughter in the death of a dental patient in England while under his care.
After that conviction, the doctor moved to the United States, where he began treating patients at several New Jersey hospitals.
The state did not set a date for a hearing on the complaint, which could result in the suspension or revocation of his license.
Aside from the Spine and Rehabilitation Center, which has offices in Newark, Piscataway and Queens, Kaul practices at the Bergen Passaic Ambulatory Surgery Center in Clifton and several other locations, according to the complaint.
Kaul performed operations in his one-room surgical practice because he lacks hospital privileges as a spine surgeon, according to the complaint, prepared by Deputy Attorney General Doreen Hafner.
In addition, the state's attorney said Kaul listed surgical credentials that are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which prevented patients from making informed decisions about their surgery.
The agreement states that Kaul also must revise the website for the Spine and Rehabilitation Center to "accurately reflect the procedures that [he] can perform" and those that must be done by other practitioners at the office.
By late Wednesday, however, no changes had been made to the site.