EAST BRUNSWICK — State medical regulators have suspended a surgeon after learning that his staff reused the same the same five catheters on multiple patients.

Sanjiv K. Patankar, who is based in this township, is suspended pending a full hearing before an administrative law judge.

Officials said Patankar instructed his staff to rinse and bleach anorectal catheters that are intended for single use because replacement catheters were on backorder.

According to the state, Patankar's office performed 82 anorectal procedures from Jan. 1. to Nov. 30 but ordered only five catheters.

Officials said Patankar would instruct his staff to use a catheter on five or more patients before discarding it. Sometimes, a catheter would begin to deteriorate from the bleaching, but Patankar ordered staff to continue using it, anyway, the state Attorney General's Office revealed Thursday.

“It is appalling that a doctor would engage in such an unsanitary and dangerous practice,” Attorney General Christopher Porrino said. “Through his alleged conduct, Dr. Patankar has demonstrated a reckless disregard for public safety that placed countless patients at risk of communicable diseases.”

Patankar used the catheters during “anorectal manometry” testing, which is performed to evaluate patients with bowel issues. The catheter is inserted into a patient's rectum and inflated.

Officials said Patankar told his assistance to wash the catheters in soapy water, soak them in bleach for 30 minutes and then place the dried devices back in their packaging for reuse.

Patankar has been ordered to provide a list of patients dating back seven years to the Board of Medical Examiners, which meets Jan. 10.

Since his suspension last week, Patankar was given a "wind-down period" where he can continue to see patients in a hospital setting in order to transfer their care to other doctors.

His attorney did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

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