Kentucky Cardiologist Admits to Healthcare Fraud in Stenting Case

June 07, 2013

LONDON, KY — A US cardiologist treating patients in London, KY, has pleaded guilty to implanting stents unnecessarily in at least one individual[1,2]. Dr Sandesh Rajaram Patil, who practiced at St Joseph's Hospital, admitted that he lied about the severity of coronary disease and submitted this false data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to receive payment for the procedure.

Although he has admitted guilt in just the one case, St Joseph's Hospital has repaid the government more than $250 000 for claims Patil submitted in 2009 and 2010, according to Kentucky media reports. Patil accepted a sentence of 30 to 37 months, which still needs to be approved by a judge, and is scheduled to be sentenced in US District Court on August, 27, 2013.

Patil is the first Kentucky-based cardiologist to be prosecuted by the federal government for healthcare fraud related to medically unnecessary stenting. Patil lost his privileges and has not practiced at St Joseph's Hospital since December 2010.

In the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper, Patil's lawyer Brian Butler said his client lied about the degree of stenosis to ensure the hospital would be reimbursed. He said Patil didn't do anything that he didn't think was medically necessary. In January, a Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure investigation found that Patil implanted three stents without justification. He was allowed to continue working but received additional monitoring and remedial education, reports the Courier-Journal.

Despite the admittance of guilt in this case, it appears to be just the beginning of problems for Patil and others at St Joseph's Hospital. Nearly 400 patients have filed lawsuits claiming that Patil and 10 other cardiologists performed unnecessary cardiac procedures and that the hospital was aware of their fraud, according to the Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader. The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs is quoted as saying that Patil's decision to admit guilt and go to prison is "merely the first step" in regaining the community's trust and accepting "financial responsibility for the patients and families who were injured."

The hospital and the other physicians named in the lawsuit deny the allegations. According to a hospital spokesperson, all cardiac interventions performed were medically necessary.

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