'Top' Dermatologist Indicted for Healthcare Fraud

Roxanne Nelson

August 14, 2014

Amir Bajoghli, MD, was named "Top Dermatologist" and "Top MOHS Surgeon" for 7 consecutive years (2005 to 2012) by the Washingtonian magazine, but now he stands accused of intentionally misdiagnosing patients with skin cancer. He has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 60 counts of healthcare fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstruction of justice.

Dr. Bajoghli is said to have defrauded various healthcare benefit programs through his medical practice, the Skin and Laser Surgery Center, which has several locations in metropolitan Washington, DC.

According to the indictment, Dr. Bajoghli intentionally misdiagnosed patients with skin cancer and performed unnecessary and invasive Mohs micrographic surgery on benign skin tissue. He then submitted claims to healthcare benefit programs using skin cancer diagnosis codes and fake certifications that these procedures had been medically necessary.

The indictment also states that Dr. Bajoghli billed insurers for Mohs surgeries that he never performed, and that he allegedly directed his staff to improperly dispose of medical waste at his offices.

He is also charged with directing unlicensed and unqualified medical assistants to perform wound closures during follow-up visits, including complex suturing and skin grafts, on patients who had undergone Mohs surgery. During these procedures, Dr. Bajoghli was allegedly with other patients at different office locations, so critical decisions regarding patient care were left up to the medical assistants. These procedures were "fraudulently" billed to health insurance companies as if Dr. Bajoghli had performed or personally supervised them.

The obstruction of justice charge comes from the fact that during the course of the government's investigation, Dr. Bajoghli told his staff to tell patients to report that he had personally performed their wound closures, whether or not it was true.

Another charge is that Dr. Bajoghli fraudulently billed healthcare benefit programs under his provider number for services that were actually performed by a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant, when he was not even present in the office. In fact, if the allegations are correct, he would have had to be seeing patients at 3 locations simultaneously.

Finally, he is charged with defrauding healthcare benefit programs by billing for the preparation and evaluation of permanent section biopsy slides.

If he is convicted, Dr. Bajoghli faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count of healthcare fraud, a mandatory 2-year consecutive sentence for each of the aggravated identity-theft counts, and a maximum penalty of 20 years for the obstruction of justice count.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.