Doctors who intentionally misdiagnose patients with conditions they do not have can pose a considerable risk to patient safety and quality of life. The treatments they prescribe are not only unnecessary, they may adversely affect patient health. When a physician deliberately misdiagnoses a patient with an ailment, they are committing fraud that is punishable by prison and fines.
Recently, the Oakland County Circuit Court approved settlements totaling $8 million that will be paid to 40 plaintiffs who filed claims against Farid Fata. Fata was a practicing oncologist who worked in three Michigan hospitals. During his time in these hospitals, he deliberately misdiagnosed his patients with various cancers that they did not have. These patients underwent round after round of chemotherapy which adversely affected their health and quality of life. In the meantime, Fata collected millions of dollars in insurance payments. In 2014, he was found guilty of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy as a result of his crime.
Reimbursement Fraud in Illinois
The ruling comes just a few months after Governor Rauner initiated a task force in Illinois to examine Medicaid fraud. The state currently spends over $19 billion on Medicaid reimbursements. It is estimated that between 8-10% of these reimbursements are fraudulent. These fraudulent requests include both over billing, and billing for services that were not rendered.
Risk to Patient Safety and Health
Physicians who deliberately misdiagnose a patient with an illness intentionally place their patient’s health and safety at risk. In the most serious cases, patients may undergo operations, chemotherapy, or be prescribed medications that can adversely impact their health. These treatments can cause pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of income, drug addiction, and even death.
To reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a deliberate misdiagnosis, it is imperative for patients to receive a second opinion whenever a physician recommends a round of treatment for a serious medical condition. Indeed, many cases of deliberate misdiagnosis are uncovered when a second physician examines a patient and determines that no underlying medical condition is present.
Healthcare Fraud has Many Faces
Some physicians view patients as piggy banks. By deliberately misdiagnosing a patient and dreaming up ailments, they can make considerable profits. Recently, the manager of Suburban Home Physicians, Diana Jocelyn Gumila from Streamwood, Illinois utilized her company, Doctor at Home, to diagnose patients as being “homebound.” In turn, she collected nearly $15.6 million in Medicare payments. Gumila directed physicians referring patients to her services to tailor their forms so that it appeared that the physician’s patients were unable to leave their homes.
Moreover, she directed these physicians to identify these patients as requiring complex, lengthy, and ultimately, expensive care and treatment. These physicians placed the health and safety of their patients at risk by recommending them to services and treatment that they did not need. Indeed, they were complicit in Gumila’s scheme and profited from their referrals to her services.
Recourse is Available
Patients who have been deliberately misdiagnosed with medical conditions, or referred to services they do not require can file claims for medical malpractice and medical negligence. Through their Chicago medical malpractice attorney, individuals may seek damages for the pain and suffering and impact to quality of life that deliberate misdiagnosis can create.