Medical malpractice lawyers and other patient rights advocates often comment on questionable connections between money and medical care. Because of the way that the compensation system works in many settings, there is a high risk of a conflict between medical care and a hospital’s profit incentive.
Of course, the vast majority of those in the healthcare industry, from individual doctors and nurses to administrators are ethical individuals who are committed to providing the best care possible all of the time. Mistakes are sometimes made, and it is important that those affected be helped to heal, but, on the whole, we should be proud of the wonderful work of so many caring medical workers
The Bad Apples
Yet, there are always exceptions that seem to prove the rule. When it comes to money distorting medical care, one of those glaring exceptions was highlighted in a recent Bayou Buzz story. The article, posted on Saturday, reported on a doctor who is facing criminal charges in a shocking $35 million Medicare scam–with patient care disregarded.
The doctor in question lived and practiced in Detroit. Last week he was arrested by federal officials on charges of misdiagnosing patients with cancer and providing unnecessary treatment, all in an effort to collect vast sums of money from public coffers via the Medicare program. The scheme lasted for over two years. The accused-doctor owned a company called Michigan Hematology Oncology. The business was sizeable, with offices in six different cities.
According to published reports, much of the information which led to the arrest was taken from looking at patient records and talking with employees who worked for the company. Those employees explained that patients were shuffled through the clinics frequently and in large numbers. Countless patients were allegedly told incorrectly that they had cancer, and signed up for chemotherapy sessions which, unsurprisingly, were conducted at the oncology center. It was a financial boon to the doctor. Those therapy session were then billed to Medicare.
Of course, beyond the financial issue, the needless suffering a medical patients is astounding. It is impossible to characterize the pain and suffering that comes with a cancer diagnosis. That is not even counting the damage caused by chemotherapy. It is situation that should not be wished upon anyone, let alone forced onto patients unnecessarily in order to enrich a doctor.
Patient well-being seems to be an afterthought for the doctor. Other reports suggest that, beyond the Medicare fraud, the oncology center hired doctors who may have been unlicensed and not qualified to even practice medicine. Employees suggests that he himself spent less than five minutes with each individual patient.
In one case, according to reports from former employees, a patient fell while at the clinic. However, before he was taken to the hospital, employees continued with his chemotherapy session so that it could be billed to Medicare. Eventually the man died as a result of complications he sustained in the fall.
If even some of the allegations in this case are true it is an incredibly sad reminder of how one doctor with ill-motives has decimate the lives of so many patients who entrusted their very lives to him. Calling it mere “medical malpractice” does not even begin to capture the misconduct.
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