Published 7/1/2007

Board takes professional compliance action

The Board of Directors of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recently voted to expel Howard M. Berkowitz, MD, of Atlanta. The action was taken under the provisions of Paragraph 8.2.e of the AAOS Bylaws, which state that professional compliance action may occur for specific reasons, including felony conviction.

On March 21, 2007, Dr. Berkowitz pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of felony fraud. The indictment against Dr. Berkowitz charged that he had participated in a $3 million scheme to commit healthcare insurance fraud.

The scheme involving improper billing for a back pain procedure known as Vertebral Axial Decompression, or “VAX-D.” Rather than use the specific billing code assigned to VAX-D, Dr. Berkowitz’s professional corporation knowingly used a different code that pertained to surgical nerve decompression procedures. Because, in legal terms, a guilty plea bears the same consequences as a conviction, the Board voted to expel Dr. Berkowitz from the AAOS.

Fellows and members who learn of state licensure actions may forward the information to Pamela Winkler, manager of member services, 6300 N. River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018-4262 or winkler@aaos.org.