Courts across the U.S. are seeing an unprecedented number of doctors brought up on charges of bribery, fraud and forging prescriptions for painkillers like Oxycodone. Twenty-four New Jersey doctors were sentenced recently for accepting bribes from Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services (BLS) in Parsippany, New Jersey. A total of 37 people pleaded guilty in connection with this long-running bribery scheme operated by BLS. Organizers of the scheme admitted it brought in revenue of over $100 million for the lab from both Medicare and private insurance companies. Prosecutors believe the BLS case involves the largest number of medical professionals prosecuted for bribery from one company. NJ.com reports, Dr. Kenneth Lewandowski was sentenced to six years in prison for operating a prescription painkiller ring from his Middletown medical office.
Judge frustrated with the actions of doctor
When U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler sentenced former general practitioner Bret Ostrager to prison for accepting kickbacks from a medical testing lab for his patients’ blood work, he chastised him for disregarding the oath he took when he first became a doctor. Judge Chesler went on to tell Ostager that the oath was not to “make as much money as possible. It was to serve your patients.”
Ostager was highly rated by many of his patients, but his successful South Shore Family Practice was not enough for him. He accepted over $100,000 in kickbacks from a Parsippany, New Jersey lab for steering blood work their way. Some of the gifts Ostager received were tickets to New York Mets games and concerts by Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. Ostager received a 37-month prison sentence. This doctor violated his patients’ trust, along with kickback statutes. The Federal Trade Commission Act was established to protect consumers from unfair acts that may negatively impact commerce. The wrongful acts of one doctor can negatively affect the medical services for thousands of patients and push the price of medical services out of reach for many who need them. Conduct by doctors like Ostrager prompts many patients to speak with a Chicago medical malpractice attorney.
Chicago, Illinois Medicare fraud conspiracy
According to the Internal Revenue Service, Jacinto “John” Gabriel, Jr. operated multiple home health care businesses. Gabriel had no medical degree, training, experience or medical license himself, but was able to convince some doctors and employees of his businesses to cooperate with his Medicare fraud scheme. Gabriel instructed employees to change existing patient records and in some instances create entirely fictitious medical records for existing patients. He fraudulently obtained personal information about hundreds of Medicare recipients that was supposed to be confidential. Using this information, he signed them up as patients of Legacy Home Healthcare and Perpetual Home Health, Inc. For their part, the cooperating doctors wrote the necessary orders, falsified paperwork, received the payments from fraudulent Medicare claims, and signed orders that allowed payments to go to Gabriel, his friends, and bogus companies. After pleading guilty to the charges of health care fraud and tax evasion, Gabriel was sentenced to 10 years in prison on April 17, 2015 and ordered to pay more than $23 million by way of restitution to Medicare. He was also ordered to pay $1.5 million to the IRS. Anyone with a parent or loved one who is the recipient of home health care services should consult a Chicago medical malpractice attorney about their rights and how to proceed in the event of fraud or negligence by the provider.
As U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler mentioned, doctors are supposed to use their experience and knowledge toward curing the sick and healing the injured. Unfortunately, that is not the top priority for many of them. Whether they lost track of their priorities some time after becoming licensed or had always put their own interest above others, a surprising number of doctors are being arrested, charged and convicted of fraud, falsifying patient records, taking kickbacks and forging prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers. A Chicago medical malpractice attorney can advise victims of medical malpractice on their rights. Expanded health services improve the lives of millions of people. The wrong actions of a few can increase the costs for many people. The criminal behavior of some doctors also undermines the trust and confidence many people have for the healthcare industry.
What patients should know about medical malpractice
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that medical negligence ranks third in causes of death in the United States. Only cancer and heart disease rank higher. Malpractice takes place when the doctor’s negligence causes injury or other damages to the patient. If that occurs, it is time to consult with a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. Personal injury and medical malpractice occur when practitioners deviate from what is defined as the “standard of care” that any prudent and ethical doctor would follow.