A long-time cancer specialist in Michigan has been accused of performing unnecessary surgeries, placing numerous patients at risk of avoidable consequences, according to doctors, former patients, state regulators, and the Department of Justice.
Long-time gynecological oncologist Dr. Vinay Malviya, who most recently worked for Ascension Hospital, refutes the accusations and maintains that his sometimes unusual surgeries were always done for the benefit of each patient.
Malviya agreed to pay $775,000 in April to settle allegations made by the DOJ that, among other things, he conducted unneeded radical hysterectomies and charged Medicare and Medicaid for them. He is no longer permitted to participate in either of the government programs until 2025.
Former patients of Malviya claim that although less invasive procedures were appropriate, he performed radical surgeries, leaving some patients with long-lasting side effects.
Records obtained by 7 Action News reveal that the doctor’s own hospital expressed concerns about whether he was acting outside the standard of care years before allegations against Malviya were made public.
A third-party physician was hired by Ascension Hospital in 2016 to examine a sample of Malviya’s patient files.
The evaluating doctor repeatedly discovered that Malviya only needed to do simple hysterectomies, which are significantly less invasive and carry less risk.
In comparison to a simple hysterectomy, radical hysterectomies considerably increase the risk of harm to the bladder, colon, ureters, nerves, and major vessels.
Malviya frequently overprescribed chemotherapy, ordering 9 rounds when only 6 were necessary, according to the Ascension investigation.
The same doctor discovered that Malviya’s excessive therapy led to “real injury” on several occasions, including “excessive blood loss,” “bone marrow suppression,” and kidney damage, as well as a higher chance of long-term adverse effects like bladder dysfunction.
2017 patient Jami Schuermann, who received care from Malviya, stated, “It breaks your trust. 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.”
When Schuermann was 35 years old, she went to Malviya because of weight gain and stomach discomfort. She was worried because her family had a history of ovarian cancer, but genetic testing revealed she was immune to the disease.
Schuermann discovered she had a cyst on one of her ovaries after seeing Dr. Malviya.
“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.”
Malviya had ordered Schuermann’s uterus, cervix, and both ovaries to be removed as part of a total hysterectomy, which shocked Schuermann.
Donna MacKenzie, Schuermann’s attorney, said that the client “didn’t even have cancer at all.” He preyed on her dread of the word cancer rather than discussing her options with her.
On behalf of Schuermann and other patients, MacKenzie is currently putting together a lawsuit against Malviya.
“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.”
Schuermann claims that even now, years after the procedure, the negative effects are still there. She has frequently been admitted to the hospital due to excruciating pain, and she now struggles with depression.
State watchdogs focused their attention on Malviya in 2017.
Malviya performed a radical hysterectomy in 12 cases, but according to a doctor recruited by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, to analyze his medical records, the procedure was not appropriate in 9 cases.
The doctor LARA recruited discovered that Malviya removed a significant portion of the upper vagina from a patient with stage 1 endometrial cancer.
“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 risks were greater with the invasive procedures.
“His patients would leave with big incisions,” said attorney Robert Buchanan, also preparing litigation against Malviya. “It was very common for those incisions to
Malviya’s own coworkers complained to the FBI in 2017 about his methods of treatment.
One of them, who now resides outside of the state, spoke with 7 Action News.
“Many women were harmed where there’s no coming back,” she said, “and we said we cannot standby and allow this to happen anymore.”
The whistleblower said that Malviya was referred to by Ascension staff as “the butcher.”
Federal investigators were alerted to Malviya’s situation after those coworkers shared internal Ascension records with them. As a result, prosecutors claim that even the hospital was concerned about complaints from his patients and “suspected higher than average rates of pulmonary embolisms and surgical infections.”
In response to allegations that it overcharged for unnecessary Malviya operations, the hospital agreed to pay $2.8 million in 2021 after the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against it.
“The goal and objective of this was that the government would stop him from ever, if you will, touching another human being again,” said the whistleblower.
Malviya’s contract was eventually terminated, according to Ascension, however they did not specify how long he continued to work there after warning flags became apparent.
Inquiries from 7 Action News included whether the hospital informed patients that their treatment might not have been necessary, but Ascension chose not to respond.
“I think the incentive is economic,” Buchanan said. “Making money off of unnecessary procedures, or very aggressive procedures beyond what the patient needs.”
Malviya continued to perform surgeries elsewhere after leaving Ascension.
However, Dr. Malviya still possesses a medical license today. He agreed to pay over $775,000 to settle claims that he performed unneeded procedures, according to a Department of Justice announcement from April.
For three years, Malviya was prohibited from using Medicaid and Medicare, 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.”
Requests for interviews with 7 Action News were turned down by both Dr. Malviya and his lawyer.
But Michael Layne, a crisis communicator recruited by Malviya, emphasized that the company settled the legal dispute with the Department of Justice without making any admissions of guilt.
He asserts that the procedures and treatments Malviya’s own medical professionals would have attested 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.
Malviya claims that although his license is still valid, he is now retired.