New York doctor given federal prison sentence

A Poughkeepsie surgeon who had pleaded guilty to health care fraud was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison on March 7. He was fined $250,000 and ordered to repay $5 million that he had acquired through fraudulent Medicare charges, and he was ordered to surrender his licenses to practice medicine. The surgeon admitted to thousands of botched and faked operations over a period of five years.

One of the surgeon's former patients said that the surgeon had performed operations on both her right and left Achilles tendons and that walking was painful, as was sitting her grandchildren on her lap. Another woman said that the surgeon had performed two unnecessary operations on her knees, the second of which left her unable to keep her full-time job. A third woman said that her mother had died following a faked surgery by the doctor.

The surgeon pleaded guilty in October 2013 to one count of health care fraud. He testified at his sentencing hearing, apologizing and indicating that he hoped to make up for his wrongdoing. According to a memorandum submitted by the prosecution, he often saw 60 or more patients and performed 20 operations in a single day, and he submitted $35 million worth of claims to insurance companies and Medicare. He was paid more than $7.5 million by his medical practice.

The conclusion of the criminal case could open the door for the more than 260 civil cases pending against the surgeon as well as the surgical centers and hospitals where he practiced. An attorney representing many of the plaintiffs said that his clients are hoping to attain closure through the civil court system. Others who have suffered injuries as a result of medical errors are often advised to file claims quickly due to a strict statute of limitations.

Source: ABC News, "Judgment Day for Surgeon Who Admitted to Fake Surgeries", Liz Neporent, March 07, 2014

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