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Civil cases could resume after doctor is sentenced

The civil cases against a New York medical doctor, his medical practice group and hospitals where he worked, might be able to resume. A stay was imposed until the Poughkeepsie doctor's trial on insurance fraud concluded. According to federal prosecutors, the physician performed thousands of fraudulent and negligent surgeries over a five-year period for which he was paid $7.5 million. The surgical practice billed more than $35 million and the physician saw approximately 60 patients daily.

According to government documents, the doctor submitted false statements to health insurance companies and Medicare. He was convicted of one count of health care fraud, sentenced to 54 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $5 million in restitution and a $250,000 fine. The doctor apologized in court and linked his actions to greed and insecurity.

The plaintiffs in the more than 260 pending civil suits said that the claims are not just for the money but also the harm that his surgical error inflicted. Ranging from a woman whose mother died after an allegedly faked knee operation to a former postal worker who claims that her surgeries were mishandled so badly that she had to stop working full-time, the plaintiffs are not satisfied with the sentence.

Carrying out procedures that are mishandled or unwarranted are ways in which a physician may breach his or her duty of care to patients. Engaging in unlawful acts for monetary compensation in connection with patient care speaks to a lack of concern for patient well-being. A patient or the family of someone who died due to medical negligence is likely facing financial difficulty from medical bills, physical rehabilitation and lost wages. They may opt to file a claim for financial compensation.

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

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