According to a letter sent to the hospital’s board of trustees, Rutgers University (RWJUH) has placed Dr. Anil Nanda, the head of their neuroscience program, on administrative leave since claims surfaced that he may have not been “fully present” in the operating room at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick during portions of procedures he had scheduled.
“He is not seeing patients at this time. The RWJUH Board is engaged with this matter and the evaluation of all privileging issues,” said spokeswoman Wendy Gottsegen. “RWJUH has a robust governance structure in place to safeguard the patients who entrust us with their care.”
Nanda, whose $2.2 million salary makes him one of the highest paid employees on the Rutgers payroll, was recruited three years ago to become chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. He also serves as senior vice president for neurosurgical services at RWJBarnabas Health.
A letter to members of the RWJUH Board of Directors from Bill Arnold, president and CEO of the hospital, said that clinical and administrative leaders from both RWJUH and Rutgers had begun an immediate fact-finding process in the wake of allegations that Nanda “may not have been fully present” during certain surgical cases under his direction.
“Dr. Nanda voluntarily offered to cease all of his clinical and administrative duties until a full inquiry could be completed by the hospital and university,” the trustees were told. The next day, a decision was made that “the best course of action for all concerned was to place Dr. Nanda on paid administrative leave until a complete review of the events could be completed.”
Similar charges against Nanda surfaced years earlier before he came to Rutgers in 2018, when he headed the Department of Neurosurgery at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, La. LSU paid out more than $700,000 in fines and restitution.
Citing documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the report said the department’s inspector general found instances where LSU Health had improperly billed Medicare for three concurrent surgeries at Shreveport in some instances where Nanda was not present in the operating room, but the government had been charged as if he had cared for patients directly.
Earlier this year, clinical assistant professor and co-director of pediatric neurological surgery at RWJUH Catherine Mazzola claimed she had been a victim of a “toxic work environment” orchestrated directly by Nanda, accusuing him of “gender discrimination, bullying and public humiliation.” The contract of another senior neurosurgery facility member was not renewed after filing a grievance charging retaliation by chairman.
Rutgers officials would not comment on the status of the investigation, other than to confirm that it was ongoing. Attorney Michael Critchley, who represents Nanda, declined comment.