Best and the Worst physicians of 2017, as named by Medscape


 Best and the Worst physicians
of 2017, as named by Medscape

By Megan Knowles

As it does each year, Medscape has recognized 26 of the best and worst physicians in medicine, healthcare, research and health policy for the Year 2017. The "best" include leaders and groundbreakers in psychiatry, oncology and health economics, whereas the "worst" includes those who faced criminal charges from murder to Medicare fraud.

List of those included in the Best category:

  • Robert Smith, MD. Smith received the Medal of Valor from the American Medical Association for delivering consistent healthcare to African Americans and those with little access during the Freedom Summer of 1964 in Mississippi.
  • Phyllis Harrison-Ross, MD. Harrison-Ross, who died at 80 January 16, led efforts to design rehabilitation and therapy services for children with severe developmental, emotional and physical disabilities; served on President Richard Nixon's National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention; and helped found the New York City Federation of Mental Health.
  • Timothy Chuter, DM. Chuter was honored with the 2017 Jacobson Innovation Award from the American College of Surgeons for his work in the development of endovascular aneurysm repair.
  • Babatunde Osotimehin, MD. Osotimehin, who died at 68 June 4, was head of the United Nations Population Fund.
  • Angela Hartley Brodie, PhD. Brodie, who died June 7 at 82, pioneered treatment methods for hormone-positive breast cancer.
  • Tirej Brimo, DM. Brimo was a Syrian war refugee and is now a junior physician in the National Health Service in the north of England after starting to pursue his degree 10 years ago in Aleppo.
  • Liz O'Riordan. O'Riordan returned to her work as an attending oncoplastic breast surgeon in Suffolk, U.K., in late November for the first time since July 2015, when she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.
  • Peter C. Nowell, MD. Nowell, who died December 2016 at 88, was the co-discoverer of the first genetic defect proven to cause cancer.
  • Mark Wainberg, PhD. Wainberg, who died at 71 April 12, was an HIV/AIDS researcher and activist.
  • Eric Winer, MD. Winer, a breast cancer clinician and researcher from Boston, publicly announced this year he is infected with HIV.
  • Oliver Smithies, PhD. Smithies, who died January 10 at age 91, was a geneticist and biochemist who shared a Nobel Prize in 2007 for developing a gene targeting technique.
  • Uwe Reinhardt, PhD. Reinhardt, who died November 13 at 80, was a health economist and the James Madison professor of political economy and of economics at Princeton (N.J.) University.
  • Alex Wubbels, RN. Wubbels was arrested for protecting an unconscious patient from a police blood draw. Her arrest outraged the general public and the American Nurses Association. She received a $500,000 settlement over the incident.

Those who were included in the "worst" category are as under:

  • Christopher Duntsch, MD. Duntsch, a neurosurgeon in Dallas, was sentenced to life in prison for maiming a woman in a spinal procedure. Dr. Duntsch was found guilty of aggravated assault and injury to the elderly. He had previously botched operations that left two patients dead and several others paralyzed.
  • David Ming Pon, MD. Pon, an ophthalmologist in Jacksonville, Fla., was sentenced to 10 years in prison for cheating Medicare out of nearly $10 million. Dr. Pon told approximately 600 patients they needed surgery to repair eye conditions they did not have and faked the treatments he billed for.
  • Gary Marder, DO. Marder, a dermatologist in Palm Beach County, Fla., allegedly diagnosed and treated patients for skin cancer they didn't have and pocketed millions from Medicare and other insurers.
  • Larry Nassar, DO. Nassar, former team physician for the Michigan State University gymnastics and women's crew teams and USA Gymnastics Team physician through four Olympics Games, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct under the guise of medical treatment.
  • Aria Sabit, MD. Sabit, a spine surgeon in Detroit, was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for admitting to performing fake and unnecessary operations. Dr. Sabit persuaded patients to undergo spinal fusion surgery, but diagnostic imaging revealed he never installed the hardware to achieve fusion.
  • John Couch, MD. Couch, a physician in Alabama, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of prescribing painkillers, including a fentanyl sublingual spray, for no legitimate purpose.
  • Jacques Roy, MD. Roy, a physician from Rockwell, Texas, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for creating a home-health scam that generated $375 million worth of Medicaid and Medicare billings. Prosecutors said Dr. Roy's practice, called Medistat, fraudulently approved 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries to receive care from approximately 500 home-health agencies.
  • Ronald Wheeler, MD. Wheeler, a urologist who specialized in the treatment of prostate cancer, was charged with practicing medicine without a license in Sarasota, Fla. His medical license had been revoked in April after the state was concerned he was diagnosing and treating prostate cancer without a biopsy confirmation of the disease.
  • Bernard Greenspan, DO. Greenspan, a physician from River Edge, N.J., was sentenced to 41 months in prison over accepting $200,000 in bribes over seven years for blood specimens. Dr. Greenspan was found guilty of violating the federal antikickback statute and related crimes.
  • Abdul Haq, MD. Haq, a physician from Ypsilanti, Mich., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud for his role in a $19 million healthcare scheme. Dr. Haq admitted he was a co-conspirator to prescribe medically unnecessary controlled substances, including oxycodone and hydrocodone.
  • Roberto Fernandez, MD. Fernandez, a physician in Miami, was sentenced to 97 months in prison for Medicare fraud and will have to pay $4.8 million in restitution. Dr. Fernandez admitted he received kickbacks from a pharmacy in exchange for referring patients there to fill prescriptions he wrote, including high cost antipsychotics and drugs for HIV/AIDS patients.
  • Elizabeth Wettlaufer, former RN. Wettlaufer pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of eight nursing home residents in Ontario, Canada. She told the judge she injected the victims with insulin without medical reason.


  1.  (Accessed on Jan. 12, 2018)
  2. (Accessed on Jan. 12, 2018)
© Professional Medical Publications. All rights reserved.