Fraud Case Alleges Hundreds of Surgeries by Non-Doctor

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Los Angeles fraud case alleges hundreds of surgeries by non-doctor.

Instead of the Stanford- and Harvard-trained orthopedic surgeon who was supposed to perform the operation, the patient got a physician assistant who would do the cutting while the doctor and other colleagues schemed nearby about ways to cover up a massive medical insurance fraud, Los Angeles county prosecutors said. It happened hundreds of times in an elaborate $150 million scheme that spanned a decade and led to unnecessary and scarring surgeries for unwitting patients, prosecutors said as they opposed bail reductions Friday for some of the 13 defendants who have pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges.

The indictments “paint a clear picture of a sophisticated and savvy group of criminal conspirators who placed profits above the health and welfare of the thousands of patients they purported to treat,” Deputy District Attorney Catherine Chon said in court papers filed Thursday. “The callous disregard and extreme indifference that was shown to unsuspecting victims is reflected in the overt acts alleged.” Dr. Munir Uwaydah and his associates prescribed unnecessary expensive medications, billed two-minute doctor’s appointments as hourlong examinations, and doctored MRI results and medical records to justify unnecessary operations, prosecutors said. Fifteen people have been indicted in the scheme that paid marketers and workers’ compensation lawyers up to $10,000 a month in kickbacks to funnel patients to Uwaydah’s clinic. Prosecutors said Uwaydah fled to his native Lebanon in 2010 after they began investigating fraud as a possible motive in the 2008 strangling of Juliana Redding, an aspiring model he once dated. The meetings included discussions of a state medical board case against Uwaydah over allegations he allowed physician assistant Peter Nelson to perform surgeries at an Orange County hospital in 2005. “The participants in the meeting were well aware that Nelson was in the operating room engaged in the very practice that the medical profession’s regulatory agency had clearly stated was inappropriate,” Chon wrote.

Uwaydah and Nelson are charged with 21 counts of aggravated mayhem — each for a different patient — though Chon said those represent a fraction of the hundreds of procedures Nelson performed. Shapiro said it was too premature to comment on the case, but he noted that physician assistants can perform some surgical procedures under the supervision of doctors. The medical board revoked Uwaydah’s license two years ago because he left the state and never completed probation after settling several alleged violations without acknowledging guilt, spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson said.

Attorney Eric Bryan Seuthe sued Uwaydah for malpractice for leaving gauze in Jenniffer Milone’s incision, which led to a painful infection when she returned to the doctor’s office less than a week after surgery.

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