Swipe to advance

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

In 2017, the world lost several prominent physicians and researchers who represented the "best" in their chosen field, including psychiatry, oncology, HIV, genetics, health economics, and other areas. Others won awards, achieved what seemed like an impossible dream, and stood up for their patients. However, with the good comes the bad. Other physicians representing the "worst" in the profession performed surgery that ended up maiming a patient, took bribes, bilked Medicare of millions by tricking patients into unnecessary procedures, prescribed opioids for no legitimate reason, and practiced without a license, among other things. This year, not all clinicians who made it onto Medscape's Physicians of the Year list are medical doctors. This year's list includes some PhDs (one was a Nobel Prize winner) and nurses (representing the best and worst categories).

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Image from AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

AMA Medal of Valor Goes to Civil Right Physician Activist Robert Smith

For fighting social injustice and providing healthcare to all Mississippi citizens during the civil rights era, Robert Smith, MD, was awarded the Medal of Valor from the American Medical Association (AMA).[1] The award, which is granted by the AMA Board of Trustees, honors AMA members who demonstrate courage under extraordinary circumstances in non-wartime situations. Dr Smith was instrumental during the civil rights movement in Mississippi, delivering consistent healthcare to those with little or no access, the AMA said. "In dangerous, volatile times in our country, Dr Smith placed himself repeatedly in harm's way and made it his mission to stand up for the health care rights of African Americans," said AMA President David O. Barbe, MD.

Image courtesy of New York State Commission of Correction

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Mental Health Pioneer Phyllis Harrison-Ross Dies at 80

Phyllis Harrison-Ross, MD, a major figure in the mental health field in New York and nationally for more than 35 years, died of lung cancer in January, at the age of 80.[2] A pediatrician and psychiatrist, Dr Harrison-Ross led efforts to design rehabilitation and therapy services for children with severe developmental, emotional, and physical disabilities. She was also an early promoter of telemedicine to bridge gaps between doctors and patients. Dr Harrison-Ross served on President Richard M. Nixon's National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention and helped found the New York City Federation of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services in 1975. She also worked closely with the New York State prison system. In 1959, she was the only black woman in the graduating class of Wayne State University's College of Medicine.

Image courtesy of the American College of Surgeons

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Timothy Chuter Receives American College of Surgeons Innovation Award

Timothy Chuter, BM, BS, DM, FACS, was honored with the 2017 Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons in recognition of his innovative role in the development of endovascular aneurysm repair.[3] The prestigious international award honors living surgeons who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery. Dr Chuter, a professor of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, was the first to design, make, and implant bifurcated stent grafts to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms. Dr Chuter not only developed minimally invasive surgical techniques but also invented and patented the stent grafts facilitating his work. Dr Chuter's devices and surgical techniques allow aneurysm repair in patients who otherwise may have no other chance of effective treatment. Dr Chuter is the author or coauthor of at least 145 peer-reviewed articles and 23 books/book chapters in the field.

Image courtesy of UNFPA

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

The World Loses Champion of Girls and Women, Babatunde Osotimehin

Babatunde Osotimehin, MD, a Nigerian doctor and champion for girls' and women's health, died suddenly in June at the age of 68. Dr Osotimehin was head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).[4] "This is a devastating loss for UNFPA and for the people, especially women, girls and youth, he dedicated his life to serving, starting from when he became a doctor in Nigeria," the UN agency said in a statement. "Dr Osotimehin was bold and never afraid of a challenge, and his strong leadership helped keep the health and rights of the world's women and girls high on the global agenda." Dr Osotimehin was particularly committed to ending preventable maternal deaths, tackling unmet demand for family planning, and eliminating harmful practices against women and girls, UNFPA said.

Image courtesy of the University of Maryland

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

"Unparalleled" Contribution to Breast Cancer: Angela Brodie

Angela Hartley Brodie, PhD, a giant in the field of breast cancer, died of complications from Parkinson's disease on June 7.[5] She was 82. Dr Brodie is credited with pioneering the development of aromatase inhibitors, which are now a mainstay for the treatment for hormone-positive breast cancer. In the world of breast cancer treatment, Dr Brodie's contribution is "unparalleled," said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland, where Dr Brodie was professor emeritus in the Department of Pharmacology. "It is because of her work that a disease that was once almost a certain death sentence can now, for many, be successfully treated and managed," Dr Reece said in a statement. Born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1934, Dr Brodie is described by her colleagues as a diminutive giant, a tiny woman who made an enormous contribution, touching the lives of all who knew her, as well as countless unseen patients. Her passion for new experiences remained robust and even in later years included an interest in learning to surf and skydive.

Image courtesy of Tirej Brimo

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Syrian Refugee Achieves His Dream of Becoming a Doctor

Tirej Brimo, a refugee who fled the Syrian war, finally became a doctor in 2017, after 10 years, four countries, four medical schools, and 21 houses.[6] In 2012, just 10 months shy of graduating with a medical degree at a university in Aleppo, war forced Brimo to flee his homeland, crisscrossing the Middle East before arriving in Britain in 2013. In August, he graduated from the University of London — after being rejected by several medical schools. He is now a junior doctor in the National Health Service in the north of England. "War can take everything from you except your passions and your love and for me to not give up on my dream and on who I am — I simply rejected the unfairness of life," Dr Brimo, 27, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Brimo hopes to "serve humanity" wherever that may be.

Image courtesy of Liz O’Riordan

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

An Awakening: Surgeon Liz O’Riordan’s Story

In late November, Liz O'Riordan, an oncoplastic surgeon in Suffolk, United Kingdom, began work again as an attending physician for the first time since July 2015, when she was diagnosed at age 40 with stage III breast cancer.[7] As satisfying as her life as a surgeon helping women with breast cancer could be, Liz felt that something was missing or not fully present. "As a doctor [before her cancer diagnosis], I was the world's most boring dinner party guest. All you do is work, eat, drink, sleep, repeat. Having cancer is never a gift but it was a wake-up call that I got at the age of 40 — instead of 60 when I retired — that prompted me to say: ‘What do I really want to do with my life?' " she said. In the last 2 years, Dr O'Riordan has answered that question by following her instincts, and her life exploded with new people, projects, honors, and speaking engagements. She has given a TEDx talk in Germany, accepted a book deal and cash advance from a major US/UK publisher, been nominated for a Woman of the Year award by her online fans, and begun exploring the development of a specialty website for athletes having cancer treatment (Dr O'Riordan is a triathlete). But the process of transformation has been "bloody hard," she said. It all started with letting go of her chief identity, Liz the surgeon. Having cancer, she said, changed her for the better. "I am stronger now in so many ways."

Image courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Peter Nowell, Who Helped Transform Cancer Research, Dies at 88

Peter C. Nowell, MD, co-discoverer of the first genetic defect proven to cause cancer, died at the age of 88 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.[8] In 1960, Dr Nowell and a graduate student discovered the Philadelphia chromosome, an abnormally small chromosome in the cancerous white blood cells of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia. The discovery was a critical step in showing that cancer has a genetic basis and took the field in a new direction. It ultimately led to the development of imatinib (Gleevec, Novartis) and other targeted therapies. Dr Nowell authored hundreds of articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and received many major awards for his research, including the prestigious Lasker Award. Dr Nowell received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania and served as the first director of the university's cancer center, now known as the Abramson Cancer Center. At the time of his death he was emeritus professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Image from Alamy

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

HIV Pioneer Mark Wainberg Dies Unexpectedly

Pioneering Canadian HIV/AIDS researcher and social activist Mark Wainberg, PhD, died April 12 at age 71.[9] Dr Wainberg drowned while swimming in Bal Harbour, Florida. He was a leader in the fight against AIDS. In a tweet, Paul Volberding, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco, called him a "major force" in HIV science. In a statement from the International AIDS Society, President Linda-Gail Bekker, MBChB, PhD, said, "We have lost one of our fiercest champions. To those of us in the research community, he was the epitome of dedication from the earliest days of the response." At the time of his death, Dr Wainberg was the head of AIDS research at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, director of the McGill University AIDS Center at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital, and professor of medicine, microbiology, and immunology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Image from Medscape/Robin Jerstad

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Top Cancer Doc: I Have HIV — Stigma Can Be Devastating

Eric Winer, MD, the prominent breast cancer clinician and researcher from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, revealed for the first time publicly that he is infected with HIV.[10] He made the announcement during an honorary lecture at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in late December 2016 (too late for inclusion in last year's Physicians of the Year list). Born with hemophilia in 1956, at a time when the average life expectancy for males with the disease was less than 20 years, Dr Winer was the recipient of historic good luck when factor VIII concentrate became available. He was 13 years old at the time. But during his years in medical school, he became one of about 10,000 Americans who were infected with HIV between 1979 and 1983 from contaminated blood products. Dr Winer also revealed that the stigma associated with HIV was so immense that he led an "undercover life" in the late 1980s and 1990s. "The stigma...based on medical illness can be devastating," he said, referring to both his illness and breast cancer, which is still stigmatized in "many parts of the world" and continues to be "in some places in the United States."

Image from Wikimedia

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Oliver Smithies, Who Transformed Genetics and Won a Nobel, Dies at 91

Oliver Smithies, PhD, a British-born American geneticist and biochemist who shared a Nobel Prize for developing the technique behind gene targeting, which now forms the basis of methods used worldwide to investigate the role of particular genes in health and disease, died in January at age 91.[11] At the time of his death, Dr Smithies was a distinguished professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to gene targeting, Dr. Smithies is also credited with developing gel electrophoresis, a major advance that was cheaper, easier, and more precise than existing technologies. He coauthored more than 350 research papers and reviews. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he received numerous other awards, including the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research and the Wolf Prize in Medicine.

Image from Christopher Barth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Famed Health Economist Uwe Reinhardt Dies After Illness

Uwe Reinhardt, PhD, famed health economist and the James Madison professor of political economy and of economics at Princeton University in New Jersey, died in November following an undisclosed illness.[12] Dr Reinhardt, born in Germany, taught health economics, comparative health systems, general microeconomics, and financial management at Princeton. He was also codirector of the Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies at Princeton. He had been a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences since 1978. Dr Reinhardt was a president of the Association for Health Services Research, and from 1986 to 1995 he served as a commissioner on the Physician Payment Review Committee, which was established by Congress in 1986 to advise it on payment of physicians. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, and many other publications.

Image from AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Nurse Alex Wubbels: Champion of Policy, Patient Rights

In August, Alex Wubbels, RN, was handcuffed, arrested, and forcibly moved from the University of Utah hospital's burn unit into a patrol car by a Salt Lake City detective. Her "crime"? Following hospital policy by protecting her unconscious patient from a blood draw by police.[13] It was all caught on video. The nurse tried to explain to the officer that he needed a warrant or consent from the patient or had to put the patient under arrest before she could allow a blood draw. The American Nurses Association expressed outrage and called for the Salt Lake City Police Department to conduct a full investigation, make amends to the nurse, and take action to prevent future abuses. One police officer was eventually fired and another disciplined over the incident. Wubbels later reached a settlement of $500,000 with all the parties involved. She also made Medscape's Year in Medicine 2017 list of most memorable events.

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Image courtesy of New Hope Fertility Center

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Stop Marketing Mitochondrial Procedure, FDA Tells Physician

In August, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told obstetrician-gynecologist and New Hope Fertility Center CEO John Zhang, MD, PhD, to stop marketing a procedure that genetically alters a human embryo to prevent mitochondrial disease and treat infertility.[14] The procedure, mitochondrial replacement technology (MRT), was performed in 2015 at the New Hope Fertility Center and led to the birth of a baby boy in 2016 without a mitochondrial disorder called Leigh syndrome that his mother carried. Two previous children of hers had died of the untreatable neurologic syndrome, which is characterized by progressive deterioration of mental and motor abilities. MRT, also called mitochondrial manipulation technology (MMT), yields a baby with DNA from three people. It is legal in the United Kingdom but not in the United States. In a letter, the FDA told Dr Zhang that his New York City–based company couldn't market MRT unless it had a biologics license, which requires a demonstration of safety, purity, and potency.

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Image courtesy of Dallas County Sheriff's Office

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

"Killer" Surgeon Gets Life for Maiming Patient

Christopher Duntsch, MD, a neurosurgeon in Dallas, Texas, who once described himself as a "stone cold killer," was sentenced to life in prison in February for maiming a woman in a spinal procedure.[15] A Dallas County jury found the 45-year-old neurosurgeon guilty of aggravated assault and injury to the elderly. What made the woman's surgery an assault and the sentence so severe were Dr Duntsch's botched operations beforehand that left two patients dead and others paralyzed or in constant pain. A few bad outcomes might constitute only malpractice, "but the fact that he continued to go on hurting patient after patient, that's what turned this into a criminal case," said Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Michelle Shughart in a news conference after the sentence was handed down. One Dallas general surgeon who claimed first-hand knowledge of Dr Duntsch and his procedures described him to the Texas Medical Board as "the most careless, clueless, and dangerous spine surgeon" he had seen.

Image from Dreamstime

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Physician Who Tricked Patients Into Surgery Gets 10 Years

Ophthalmologist David Ming Pon, MD, was sentenced in March in a federal district court in Jacksonville, Florida, to 10 years in prison for bilking Medicare out of nearly $10 million.[16] One could call it a light sentence. Federal prosecutors had sought at least 40 years in prison for the 59-year-old Dr Pon, not just on account of the dollars at stake but also because of what they described as "evil" treatment of his elderly patients. Dr Pon, after all, had told some 600 patients that they had wet age-related macular degeneration when in fact they didn't, and that they needed laser photocoagulation lest they go blind, according to prosecutors. To top off the fraud, he faked the treatments that he billed for. His actions disturbed two fellow eye surgeons so much that they did something relatively uncommon as physicians in a criminal proceeding — they asked the judge to go hard, not easy, on a colleague. Both had testified at trial as expert witnesses for the government.

Image from Dreamstime

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Florida Physician to Pay $18 Million for Medicare Fraud

In February, Florida dermatologist Gary Marder, DO, agreed to settle a case with the federal government for $18 million on allegations of Medicare fraud.[17] Dr Marder allegedly diagnosed and treated patients for skin cancer that they didn't have, put them through medically unnecessary treatments, and then pocketed millions from Medicare and other insurers. According to a statement from the US Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Florida, Dr Marder, who resides in Palm Beach County and is the owner and operator of the Allergy, Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers in Port St. Lucie and Okeechobee, knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare by requesting reimbursement for services that he never performed or directly supervised. For example, Dr Marder allegedly billed Medicare for more than $2.7 million for 8000 radiation treatments that were supposedly administered over the course of 256 days — when he was out of the country. He also claimed to have performed radiation therapy on patients using expensive equipment that he doesn't own — equipment that has a reimbursement rate roughly seven times greater than the rate for the equipment that was actually used.

Image from AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

US Gymnastics Team Doctor Pleads Guilty to Criminal Sexual Conduct

Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, DO, pleaded guilty in a Michigan court in November to multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct related to abuse under the guise of medical treatment.[18] Dr Nassar was the team physician for the Michigan State University (MSU) gymnastics and women's crew teams as well as an associate professor at MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine. He served as the USA Gymnastics physician through four Olympic Games. Dr Nassar's plea deal follows claims by two of the United States' most decorated gymnasts, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, that they had been sexually abused by him. Dr Nassar is named in more than 120 lawsuits by athletes who allege that he sexually abused them under the pretense of providing medical treatment.

Image from Facebook

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Spine Surgeon Gets Almost 20-Year Prison Sentence for Fraud

Aria Sabit, MD, a spine surgeon who admitted to unnecessary as well as fake operations, was sentenced to a prison term of 235 months — almost 20 years — in a federal district court in Detroit, Michigan.[19] Federal prosecutors had sought a long sentence for the 43-year-old surgeon to deter other Detroit-area physicians from committing fraud. Dr Sabit persuaded patients to undergo spinal fusion surgery with metal instrumentation, but subsequent diagnostic imaging revealed that he never installed the hardware, just bone dowels, and never achieved fusion. Prosecutors described some of the operations as "plain butchery." He also stole roughly $11 million from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers, according to the Department of Justice. Dr Sabit made Medscape's 2015 Physicians of the Year "worst" list when it was revealed that he received almost $440,000 in kickbacks for a $5000 investment in a physician-owned company supplying screws and hardware for spinal surgery.

Image from iStock

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Doctors in Alabama, Rhode Island Involved in Major Opioid Fraud

Alabama physician John Couch, MD, was sentenced in May to 20 years in prison after being convicted with a colleague of prescribing painkillers for no legitimate purpose.[20] Couch, who with Xiulu Ruan, MD, ran the Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama clinics, was sentenced after a jury in March found them guilty of racketeering conspiracy and other felonies. Prosecutors said that through those clinics, Couch and Ruan regularly wrote prescriptions for large quantities of addictive medications, including fentanyl sublingual spray (Subsys, Insys Therapeutics), without a legitimate medical purpose. In October, Jerrold Rosenberg, MD, pleaded guilty in a Rhode Island federal court to charges that he committed healthcare fraud and conspired to receive kickbacks to prescribe Subsys.[21] Prosecutors said that from 2012 to 2015, Rosenberg schemed to receive $188,000 in kickbacks in the form of speaker fees from Insys, which were a major factor in his decision to prescribe Subsys to patients. He also fraudulently indicated that his patients suffered from cancer pain when they did not in order to secure insurance approvals for Subsys, prosecutors said.

Image courtesy of US Marshals

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Physician Gets 35-Year Sentence for Massive Medicare Fraud

Jacques Roy, MD, from Rockwall, Texas, was sentenced in August to 35 years in prison for orchestrating a giant home-health scam that generated $375 million worth of Medicare and Medicaid billings, with Medicare representing the most.[22] Dr Roy was ordered to pay $268 million in restitution. In April, a federal jury found Dr Roy guilty of six counts of healthcare fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, two counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said that Dr Roy's practice, called Medistat, fraudulently approved 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries to receive care from roughly 500 home-health agencies. Evidence found in Dr Roy's house suggested that he had plans to flee the country, including a book titled Hide Your A$$ET$ and Disappear — A Step-by-Step Guide to Vanishing Without a Trace. Two other books explained how to move money offshore.

Image courtesy of the Sarasota Police Department

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

No License: HIFU Prostate Cancer Doc Arrested

Ronald Wheeler, MD, a urologist who was once called "one of the most dangerous doctors" in Florida and who specialized in the treatment of prostate cancer with high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), was arrested in July in Sarasota, Florida, and charged with practicing medicine without a license.[23] His medical license was revoked in late April. The arrest occurred after an anonymous complaint to the state's Department of Health that Dr Wheeler was still practicing medicine despite the revocation of his license. Local police then went undercover at Dr Wheeler's HIFU Centers of America office in Sarasota. The undercover policemen, who posed as patients with prostate cancer, were told that the office visit cost $3445 and that the recommended HIFU-based treatment plan started at $50,000. Dr Wheeler is believed to have seen up to 12 patients since his license was revoked, investigators said. Dr Wheeler was advertising prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment services but did not perform confirmatory tissue biopsies for patients with cancers diagnosed using MRI, as required by law.

Image from AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

This Physician Fought the Law, and the Law Won

A company called Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services (BLS) in Parsippany, New Jersey, hatched a massive scheme about 10 years ago to bribe area physicians such as Bernard Greenspan, DO, to send it blood work.[24] As of March, 31 physicians have pleaded guilty to receiving bribes from BLS. At age 79, Dr Greenspan, of River Edge, New Jersey, is the oldest physician charged in the case. The Department of Justice accused the family physician of accepting roughly $200,000 in bribes over 7 years for blood specimens that gave BLS $3 million worth of lab work. But instead of pleading guilty like the others, he maintained his innocence and fought it out in a federal district court in Newark, New Jersey. After an 11-day trial, the jury took just over 4 hours to find Dr Greenspan guilty of violating the federal antikickback statute and related crimes. In June, Dr Greenspan was sentenced to 41 months in prison. The family doctor also must forfeit $203,693.[25]

Image from Dreamstime

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Detroit-Area Physician Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud

In October, Abdul Haq, MD, 72, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud for his role in a $19 million scheme that involved three Detroit-area providers.[26] Dr Haq admitted in a federal district court that he conspired with the owner of the Tri-County Network, Mashiyat Rashid, and his codefendants and others to prescribe medically unnecessary controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and Opana (Endo Pharmaceuticals), to Medicare patients. He further admitted that Rashid directed him and other physicians to require Medicare beneficiaries to undergo medically unnecessary facet joint injections if they wished to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances. Dr Haq also referred Medicare beneficiaries to home-health agencies, laboratories, and diagnostic providers for medically unnecessary services. He served as the "straw owner" of pain clinics that Rashid owned or controlled, and he submitted fraudulent enrollment materials to Medicare that failed to disclose Rashid's ownership. Altogether, Dr Haq admitted that he submitted or caused the submission of false claims worth $19,322,846 to Medicare.

Image from iStock

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Miami Physician Gets 8 Years for "Multifaceted" Fraud

Roberto Fernandez, MD, a physician in Miami, Florida, was sentenced in September by a federal judge to 97 months in prison for Medicare fraud.[27] He'll have to pay back $4.8 million in restitution. Fernandez pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiring to commit healthcare and wire fraud. That single criminal count encompasses a "multifaceted…scheme" that ran from April 2011 to February 2017, prosecutors said. The 51-year-old doctor admitted that he received kickbacks from a pharmacy in exchange for referring patients there to fill prescriptions he wrote. Some scripts were for expensive antipsychotics and cancer and HIV/AIDS drugs, even though patients weren't necessarily diagnosed with these conditions, prosecutors said. He also admitted to ordering unnecessary home-healthcare services and signing plans of care in exchange for kickbacks. Fernandez also prescribed medically unnecessary oxycodone, hydrocodone, and alprazolam to patients, some of whom he never examined, for $100 to $200 in cash per prescription. Prosecutors said his waiting room would fill up with 30 drug-seekers, indicative of a pill mill.

Image from Jesse Winter/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Physicians of the Year 2017: Best and Worst

Megan Brooks; Darbe Rotach | December 18, 2017 | Contributor Information

Nurses Guilty of Killing Patients With Lethal Injections

Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, a former registered nurse, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of eight nursing home residents in Ontario, Canada.[28] She also pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault in a Woodstock, Ontario, courtroom. She told the judge that she injected the victims with insulin without medical reason. She described some of the victims as "feisty" and hard to handle, and she reported feeling a "red surge" come over her before each killing. Separately, Niels Högel, a former German nurse serving a life sentence for killing two of his patients, is now believed to have murdered at least 84 other patients in his care.[29] In court, he admitted to intentionally inducing cardiac arrest in dozens of patients by administering lethal injections of heart medication, including sotalol, lidocaine, amiodarone, and calcium chloride. He said he liked trying to revive the patients but sometimes failed. It appears Högel chose his victims at random.

Start
 

Physicians of the Year 2018: Best & Worst

Physicians exemplified the best and worst of their calling in 2018. At their best, they won awards and blew the whistle on an illegal cancer drug scheme. At worst, they abused patients and provided unnecessary treatment for their own gain.Medscape News Slideshows, December 2018
All Slideshows
1 26 Next
References