Doctors Named to 'Fraud Hall of Shame'

Mark Crane

Disclosures

January 20, 2017

In This Article

Dishonest Doctors Have a Big Impact

"Crooked doctors on the take were the lynchpin of the entire scam," said Quiqqle. "They used their expertise to make sure the claims sailed through the insurance system."

The clinics' staff saw up to 150 patients a day. Some patients had physical therapy or acupuncture five times a week, underwent useless MRIs and x-rays, and received orthopedic and medical supplies such as neck braces.

While only a tiny fraction of physicians commit healthcare fraud, the impact is still staggering. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) estimates that financial losses are in the tens of billions of dollars each year.

"The majority of healthcare fraud is committed by a very small minority of dishonest healthcare providers. Sadly, the actions of these deceitful few ultimately serve to sully the reputation of perhaps the most trusted and respected members of our society—our physicians," the group said on its website.

Physicians agree that crooked colleagues cause patients to distrust and lose respect for the medical profession. "Trust is the fundamental basis of our relationship with patients, and we are losing it because of unscrupulous doctors," one physician said in response to a Medscape report about the case of Farid Fata, MD. He was sentenced last July to 45 years in prison for administering excessive or unnecessary chemotherapy to hundreds of patients over a 6-year period, and for billing Medicare and private insurers for $17 million in fraudulent claims. The story prompted almost 300 comments from Medscape readers.

Gejaa Gobena was the federal prosecutor who brought charges against Dr Fata. The attorney, now in private practice, headed the healthcare fraud unit of the US Department of Justice's criminal division, overseeing the prosecution of almost 1000 individuals.

"Medicare's under full assault by fraudsters," Gobena told Medscape Medical News in a recent interview. "It is really difficult to police a public health insurance system which has as many beneficiaries as it does while also trying to maintain its goal of paying physicians and other providers as quickly as possible."

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