Doctor Charged with DUI, Endangering a Patient

BLOOMSBURG -- Dr. Ananda Panikkar of the Bloomsburg area is accused of driving and working under the influence.

According to arrest papers, the anesthesiologist was called into Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital back in July to supervise a surgery. On his way home, he was stopped by police who say the doctor was swerving on the road.

Cops say Dr. Panikkar failed a sobriety test and had a blood alcohol concentration of .28 percent; that's more than three times the legal limit.

"That's clearly not OK! I mean when I go into a hospital, it's obviously to get a treatment from people I think are in the field and they know what they're doing and everything is in order,” said Essi Glah-Fisher of Bloomsburg.

Geisinger officials say Dr. Panikkar no longer works with them. The doctor's attorney says the 67-year-old doctor is retiring.

"I understand it's a hard job, but I mean, don't show up to work if you're going to be drunk, and don't risk somebody's life as well your own. It's pretty much the same thing as driving while drunk,” said Elijah Tracey of Bloomsburg.

"If he's doing that, obviously that's terrible for not only him but everyone involved,” said Bill Morrell of Bloomsburg.

Newswatch 16 spoke with Dr. Panikkar's attorney who says what happened that night does not add up. He describes his client as an "excellent physician" and one who is "well respected." He also says he spoke with Geisinger employees who were in the operating room who say there was no reason to believe there was anything wrong with Dr. Panikkar.

"It's tough to say because nothing's been proven I guess,” said Morrell.

According to papers, Dr. Panikkar told police he was tired from a 16-hour workday and had one glass of wine at dinner the night of his arrest.

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18 comments

  • Eye 4 Eye

    Where’s clintons thoughts on this? No wonder hospitals are always being sued! If he does his job this well drunk just imagine what he could do sober? Perhaps sober he could get his work day done in 8-10 hours instead of 16!

  • SCOTTYS

    The one doctor in mount carmel went through a dui checkpoint hammered. I mean doctors are human beings. That doesn’t mean they cant do there job, some just like to drink alcohol in this stressful world and strange area.

  • Carmen Nardozzi

    Don’t begrudge Geisinger just because of one accused mans mistake. Geisinger as a whole is a great medical group who goes above and beyond with their patients. I personally love the care I receive through them. This type of incident could happen anywhere no matter what hospital or medical group affiliation. How many do the same thing as this man and don’t get caught?

  • Johnson Steele

    As usual, everybody commenting on here and the majority of people who see stories like this on the news are incapable of putting themselves in someone else’s position. It doesn’t matter how much he gets paid. It is neither healthy nor desirable for people to be working 16-hour days. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Many people have done it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect the physical and mental health of some people more than others. Rather than reflexive knee-jerk blame-gaming and leveling charges of ‘excuse making’, which is the ultimate cop-out, and the #1 reason why this country and the world are so incredibly screwed-up is because most people are incapable of empathy and understanding. They see such things as weakness. For most people, everything is black and white. Sorry, but reality doesn’t work that way, even if our corrupt and archaic legal system and the majority of people don’t care. People like to feel better about themselves by shutting-off their empathy switch by rationalizing that “well, they deserved it.” “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” This is an extremely simple-minded and dysfunctional way of looking at the world and it’s why everything sucks, all because nobody cares… until it’s their turn. Then they wonder incredulously why nobody cares about them. Try caring about somebody else other than yourself for a change. Put yourself in someone’s else’s position and try cutting them a little slack. Let the snarky dimwitted comments commence; I expect as much from the average person. I still felt the need to say it regardless…

  • Joe

    Sorry to say I miss not surprised. I hope the patient is ok and wondering how many other surgeries he was on and supervised with other patients in a dangerous way as this.
    Too many stories of non trust worth and taken advantage of people’s trust are coming out on this big name “G” network.
    “Pennsylvania Medically Damaged Souls”

  • deborah

    an excellent, well respected physician…he probably is but…..it has nothing to do with this report. The best of the best can do foolish things. We all are, or should be keenly aware of someone who is emitting an odor of alcohol, their gate is off, speech mostly likely impaired. I’d have no problem having this Doctor relieved and checked before he continued with his case if I suspected he was under the influence. We are, after all, our patients advocate, not when it’s convenient or comfortable, but every single time. He very well may have consumed after he left the hospital, hopefully not on call with the possibility of having to return. Not enough information to draw a conclusion here. I tend to think there is more to this story since he is no longer with GHS.