Controversial neurosurgeon’s license won’t be renewed

A controversial Fletcher-based neurosurgeon won't be able to operate on patients' spinal cords and skulls after Sept. 30, according to a recent decision by the N.C. Medical Board.

The doctor is out? The N.C. Medical Board has told Dr. Michael Rosner that it doesn't plan to issue him another temporary license to continue practicing. The neurosurgeon has been battling with the board for years over his license. Photo by Jason Sandford

The decision is the latest episode in an ongoing battle between the board and Dr. Michael J. Rosner that dates back to 2002, when the board took the rare step of summarily suspending his license. The board found that Rosner had performed eight unnecessary surgeries, describing them as "deviating from the accepted and prevailing standard of care."

Rosner has been fighting the board's decisions ever since, both in appeals before the board in Raleigh and in Wake County Superior Court. The board had issued Rosner a series of temporary licenses, including one in February that's set to expire Sept. 30.

Without further explanation, the board's letter notified Rosner that it would not give him another temporary license to practice, said Jim Wilson, Rosner's Raleigh-based attorney. Wilson said Rosner has complied with every order of the medical board and has the backing of several respected neurosurgeons who have appeared before the board on his behalf or provided written testimony. As to what recourse Rosner had, Wilson said, "We're exploring our options."

A board spokeswoman declined to elaborate on Rosner's case, stating that its position was explained in the series of public documents posted on its Web site. In the most recent case to be adjudicated before the board, the board ruled that Rosner's management of a patient constituted "unprofessional conduct, including, but not limited to, departure from, or the failure to conform to, the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice."

For the past decade Rosner has been performing a medical procedure undertaken by only a handful of the nation's neurosurgeons: cutting away bits of the spine and the back of the skull to treat neurological conditions found among patients often diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. Rosner, an expert in trauma neurosurgery before his current work, practices out of a small office in Fletcher next to Park Ridge Hospital, where he has performed his surgeries.

Rosner's work has made him a lightning rod of controversy. Many patients, who sometimes travel long distances to be treated by him, say that he's dramatically improved their lives. But others have filed civil lawsuits against him, alleging that he's performed unnecessary surgeries.

Rosner and other proponents of the surgery believe that many of the patients they see suffer from one of two conditions: a skull that's too small for the brain or a compressed spinal column. Sometimes they have both.

In medical terminology, "hypoplastic posterior fossa," which is also known as "Chiari I malformation," essentially means that the back of the skull and upper spinal column are too small to contain the lower part of the brain and the upper spinal cord. This condition has long been known to cause neurological difficulties — including tremors, sleep apnea, headaches and poor coordination — in some sufferers.

In "Brain Man" (July 16, 2008, Xpress) Rosner explained that he has operated to correct "neurological deficits" in his patients, rather than to treat fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue.

He also explained that he began to look at patient X-rays and MRIs in a new light after noticing that people with head injuries often have spinal-cord abnormalities as well.

For that 2008 article, Xpress asked Rosner about the medical board's past assertions that he's engaged in unprofessional conduct, and Rosner responded: "In medieval times, we burned people at the stake for different ideas. Now we simply strip them of their professional reputation."

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2 thoughts on “Controversial neurosurgeon’s license won’t be renewed

  1. Rod

    On 7/29/08 my wife was given back to her family by Dr. Rosner, prior to which she was totally confined to our home for 2 yrs. after an accident which triggered her Chiari 1 condition. She is now again leading a normal happy life here in FL. Rosner is one of the most experienced Chiari surgeons in the world; but his mistake was going on ABC’s 20/20 in 2000 to draw attention to this condition, so he became the “lightning rod” in the stiff backed NS medical community, especially in NC and SC, as we got no-way it’s Chiari opinions on my wife’s condition from NS’s in both states. The NS’s we saw prior to Rosner were mostly unfeeling inept and/or incompetent; but all (quote) conservative. The best input we received was from the head of the UF med. school(1 of the best in the US) neurology dept., who told us that her condition was very serious but was “beyond the expertize of me and our entire staff at UF”. That floored us. Later we were referred to Rosner, and got a 2nd opinion from 1 of the most respected NS’s in this country. My wife was driving within 45 days of her surgery, and the rest is history. That was our miracle.

    However what we learned is that there are many others with Chiari that go mis-diagnosed for many many yrs.; and the sad fact is the longer you go untreated the less likely a marked recovery is. The complaints against Rosner come from patients that didn’t get what they wished for and expected, a miracle; but everything Rosner gave us to sign and told us was do not expect a miracle. In our opinion, the real fault lies with the Dr.’s that continually mis-diagnose and ignore most Chiari patients in the 1st place, as being “conservative” and following out-dated NS medical texts/procedures doesn’t get you sued or brought up before the Med. Board. To us all of this is very very sad, especially for whose who will now go untreated due the “dark age” actions of the NC Med. community.

  2. evelyn@evelyngrahamphoto.com

    My husband is a patient of Dr. Rosner and we are
    very grateful to Dr. Rosner for saving his life and preventing him from having a very painful death. Dr Rosner did surgery on Gene for hydrocephalus. We tuffed out the time Dr Rosner’s
    license were suspended , When the suspention was up wesaw him one more time and now we are told he is not getting his license renewed.
    I have tried to find another Dr. for Gene and Mountain Neurosugery said Dr Lommis was on the Medical board and was not seeing Dr Rosners patients because of the of that. What about his
    promise to the patients. How can the medical board
    remove out Dr. who we respect form working and then refuse to provide us with Dr.s care and will not refer us to anyone.
    One of out other Dr.s refered us to Mt . Nuero
    and the told him the would not see Gene, he suggested we go to Greenville. That is not an option because Gene has blood clots and cannot travel or sit in car that long. We have to have the fire department help us with getting him out of the house and to the Dr. I know there has to
    to be a Dr. in Asheville who has to ability and
    self respect to help those of us who need a reliable doctor to help us at this time. This is proof that too much power is destructive and deadly. Why do we need the Medical Board if the
    are not solving problems but causing them.tks evelyngraham

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