DETROIT (WXYZ) — A longtime Michigan cancer doctor has been accused by physicians, former patients, state regulators and the Department of Justice of performing unnecessary surgeries, putting scores of patients at risk of needless complications.
Investigator Ross Jones has been following this story and will have an update the investigation on 7 Action News at 6.
Dr. Vinay Malviya, a longtime gynecological oncologist who worked most recently for Ascension Hospital, denies the allegations and says his procedures—while sometimes unconventional—were in each patient’s best interest.
In April, Malviya agreed to pay $775,000 to resolve claims by the DOJ that he performed unnecessary radical hysterectomies, among other procedures, and passed along the cost to Medicare and Medicaid.
He is now banned from taking part in both federal programs until 2025.
Today, former patients of Malviya's allege that he performed radical surgeries when less invasive procedures were warranted, leaving some with long-lasting side effects.
Years before allegations against Malviya became public, records obtained by 7 Action News show the physician’s own hospital had concerns about whether he was operating outside the standard of care.
'It turned into a very big deal'
In 2016, Ascension Hospital engaged with a third-party physician to review a sample of Malviya’s patient records.
Repeatedly, the reviewing physician found that Malviya performed radical hysterectomies when only simple hysterectomies—a much less invasive procedure with fewer risks—were warranted.
Radical hysterectomies significantly increase the risk of damage to the bladder, bowel, ureters, nerves and major vessels compared to a simple hysterectomy.
The Ascension review found that Malviya often overprescribed chemotherapy, ordering 9 rounds when only 6 were warranted.
Repeatedly, the same physician found that Malviya’s overtreatment caused “actual harm,” from “excessive blood loss” to “bone marrow suppression” to kidney damage while also raising the risk of long-term side effects, like bladder dysfunction.
“It breaks your trust,” said Jami Schuermann, who was treated by Malviya in 2017. “It makes you not want to go to the doctor because you’re afraid they might have some ulterior motive of making money off of a surgery from you.”
Schuermann, then 35, visited Malviya after experiencing stomach pains and weight gain. She was concerned by a history of ovarian cancer in the family, but genetic testing showed the cancer could not be passed on to her.
After visiting Dr. Malviya, Schuermann learned she had a cyst on one of her ovaries.
“I kind of went in with something that, to me, wasn’t a big deal,” Schuermann said, “and it turned into a big deal very quickly.”
Schuermann was surprised when she learned that Malviya ordered a total hysterectomy, removing her uterus, cervix and both ovaries.
“She didn’t even have cancer at all,” said Donna MacKenzie, Schuermann’s attorney. “But rather than explain to her what options she might have…he preyed on her fear of the word cancer.”
Today, MacKenzie is preparing a lawsuit against Malviya on behalf of Schuermann and other patients.
“She wanted to do whatever the doctor said was necessary, and he didn’t give her any other option,” MacKenzie said. “It was surgery and it was now.”
Years after the surgery, Schuermann says the side effect are still with her. She has repeatedly had to be hospitalized over intense pain and today struggles with depression.
'Many women were harmed'
In 2017, state watchdogs turned their sights onto Malviya.
A physician hired by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, to review Malviya’s treatment records found that in 12 cases where he performed a radical hysterectomy, the procedure “was not appropriate in 9.”
For a woman with stage one endometrial cancer, the physician hired by LARA found that Malviya removed a “substantial portion of (her) upper vagina.”
“This is egregious surgical management,” the physician wrote, suggesting Malviya’s decisions were influenced by a “lack of knowledge as well as…financial gain.”
He added: “The fact that Dr. Malviya performed a radical hysterectomy for this patient leads me to believe that there are many more of his patients…that have undergone an unnecessary, aggressive radical hysterectomy.”
The invasive procedures came with greater risks.
“His patients would leave with big incisions,” said attorney Robert Buchanan, also preparing litigation against Malviya. “It was very common for those incisions to
In 2017, Malviya’s own colleagues went to the FBI over concerns about his treatments.
7 Action News spoke with one of them, who now lives out of state. She asked that we not name her or show her face because she still works in the field of healthcare.
“Many women were harmed where there’s no coming back,” she said, “and we said we cannot standby and allow this to happen anymore.”
Within Ascension, according to the whistleblower, employees referred to Malviya as "the butcher."
Those colleagues shared internal Ascension records raising alarm about Malviya with federal investigators, leading prosecutors to allege that even the hospital was concerned by complaints from his patients and “suspected higher than average rates of pulmonary embolisms and surgical infections.”
The Department of Justice filed suit against the hospital who, in 2021, agreed to pay $2.8 million to resolve claims that they overbilled for unnecessary Malviya procedures.
“The goal and objective of this was that the government would stop him from ever, if you will, touching another human being again,” the whistleblower said.
Ascension says they eventually ended Malviya’s contract, though they would not say how much longer he practiced there after warning signs emerged.
Ascension did not respond to a series of questions from 7 Action News, including whether the hospital notified patients that their treatment may not have been necessary.
“I think the incentive is economic,” Buchanan said. “Making money off of unnecessary procedures, or very aggressive procedures beyond what the patient needs.”
After leaving Ascension, Malviya continued to perform surgeries elsewhere.
Fined, but still licensed
But today, Dr. Malviya still has a medical license. In April, the Department of Justice announced he would pay nearly $775,000 to resolve allegations of performing unnecessary surgeries.
Malviya was banned from taking part in Medicaid and Medicare for three years, but not
from practicing medicine. He admitted to no wrongdoing.
‘It bothers me every single day,” the whistleblower said, “that he is allowed to have a medical license. It’s absolutely, completely a disregard for all the women who were hurt.”
Both Dr. Malviya and his attorney declined requests to speak with 7 Action News.
But Michael Layne, a crisis communications specialist hired on behalf of Malviya, stressed that Malviya settled the lawsuit with the Department of Justice without admitting any wrongdoing.
He maintains that Malviya’s own medical experts would have testified that the surgeries and treatments he ordered were justified and reasonable.
He released the following statement:
Vinay K. Malviya, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist, settled a lawsuit that had been filed with the federal government. As the federal government stated in their press release, “The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.”
Dr. Malviya vigorously denies the allegations made against him by the government. On the advice of counsel and after lengthy discussion with family Dr. Malviya decided to settle the case, to avoid the stress and great expense of litigation. Defending a federal lawsuit is an extremely time consuming and expensive proposition.
This civil case involved care provided by Dr. Malviya at Ascension Hospitals in Michigan. Numerous respected independent specialists in the areas of gynecologic oncology and chemotherapy thoroughly and meticulously reviewed the medical care in question in this action. They determined that Dr. Malviya followed well-established standards of care in his evaluation and treatment of these patients.
Within his medical community, Dr. Malviya was widely regarded as a “doctor of last resort,” willing to take on the most difficult and challenging cases, including patients with severely compromising medical conditions. Given the complexity of these patients’ medical conditions, it was impossible for Dr. Malviya to use a one-size-fits all approach to their care. As Dr Malviya was essentially entering uncharted waters, he carefully selected treatment regimens individualized for each patient.
Several of these patients, whom other gynecologic oncologists had turned away, are still alive and well decades later and credit Dr. Malviya for their continued wellness. Their testimonials can be found on Dr. Malviya’s website at www.drmalviya.com
Dr. Malviya is very grateful to the patients who placed their trust in him over all these years; his teachers, students, and colleagues in a remarkable and rewarding professional career; and his loving family.
Dr. Malviya is aware that some personal injury attorneys seeking new clients have created a webpage and sent letters to his patients containing false statements. Dr. Malviya, through his attorney, has demanded that the personal injury attorneys immediately cease and desist in making false and defamatory statements about Dr. Malviya, and immediately retract and remove those statements made online and in letters. Some of his patients who have received these letters have called Dr. Malviya to offer their support and to express concerns regarding how the law firms have gained access to their personal and protected health information.
Even though his license is still intact, Malviya says he is now retired.
Investigative Reporter Ross Jones will be following up on this story tonight (Oct. 12, 2022) on WXYZ at 6 p.m..
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.