Doctor who failed drug test on surgery day opening new practice

Updated: Jun. 4, 2020 at 3:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - A central Kentucky surgeon who failed a drug test on a day he was operating on patients has a new practice, and former patients are outraged.

Currently, there are about 35 lawsuits in progress against Dr. Michael Heilig. Dr. Heilig is an orthopedic surgeon. WKYT started an investigation into the doctor during the summer of 2018. At the time, Clark County resident Doug White told WKYT's Miranda Combs that Dr. Heilig put his new hip in upside down.

WKYT also learned Dr. Heilig was under the review of the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board for failing a drug test during a day he was operating on patients in May 2018. The board restricted his medical license for 90 days while he stayed sober and met all requirements to get his license cleared. He has now opened a new practice, Assured Orthopedics in Richmond.

Former Heilig patient Danny Davis said he even received a flyer from Assured Orthopedics announcing its grand opening in the mail. "I was quite surprised," Davis said. "This was a couple of weeks ago and it was actually addressed to me."

Dr. Heilig operated on Davis in 2016 to repair a broken arm. 10 months after the surgery, Davis said things went horribly wrong. "I was in an airport getting ready to fly from Texas into Mexico, and I felt movement in my arm. It just came apart."

The pain went on until he left Dr. Heilig and went to the University of Kentucky where a team of surgeons performed a third surgery to finally fix it. "He doesn't need to be seeing patients at all. Period," Davis said.

After WKYT's first investigation, close to 100 patients called and emailed saying they received bad surgeries from Dr. Heilig.

We spoke to Berea resident Arvil Cain last summer. He had surgery with Dr. Heilig for a broken foot two weeks before Dr. Heilig lost his privileges at Clark Regional Medical Center for failing a drug test. Still today, he's in terrible pain. "It's like sticking a hot poker. The pain is so sharp," Cain recently told WKYT Investigates.

Cain said what scared him the most was his current doctors recently told him he only has two choices: fuse his ankle or amputate his foot. "When they told me they came close to taking my foot off and maybe part of my leg, that scared me totally out of my wits," Cain said.

Heilig's website states he is affiliated with three area hospitals, but the website doesn't list which ones he is affiliated with. WKYT knew he once had admitting privileges with Baptist Health Richmond, Clark Regional Medical Center and CHI St. Joseph Health. Those are hospitals he was affiliated with before his license was restricted. All three said he does not have privileges. He could have privileges at hospitals WKYT is not aware of.

WKYT Investigates has called and emailed Dr. Heilig. He has not responded.

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