A surgeon is being accused of accidentally burning down his own home in an attempt to destroy medical records related to false and fraudulent medical claims.
Among some of the saddest trends in medical malpractice news is the rise of doctors filing false claims or ordering unnecessary tests to bilk their patient’s insurance companies of thousands of dollars. The surgeon’s wife, who was also the office manager of her husband’s practice, is accused of destroying the evidence (and her home).
According to police, the wife attempted to burn several medical records in a trash can when the fire got out of control and eventually razed their $1.6 million mansion.
Defrauding Medicare and Medicaid
The indictment accuses the doctor of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid to the tune of $5 million. Authorities accuse the doctor of filing over 100,000 fraudulent claims.
Patients who are on Medicare or Medicaid seldom have to pay copays. Neither do they necessarily have access to what tests or procedures a doctor is ordering. If, for example, a patient is billed for several MRIs, Medicare would pick up the tab, but the patient would never be in a position to know that they were billed for something they never received.
This makes it easy for doctors to charge patients thousands of dollars for expensive treatments without them ever receiving the services that they were billed for. This can go on for years before anyone picks up on it.
This doctor is also accused of writing prescriptions for opioids to get patients to return. He would then bill them for what the government has called “worthless services”.
In cases like this, the government will actually allow whistleblowers to file their own lawsuits against doctors. These are known as Qui Tam lawsuits and allow the government to choose whether they will prosecute the crime or allow a civil attorney to do it for them. Patients can receive some of the damages for incurring the costs as the government wants to incentivize the reporting of fraudulent claims and thus protect Medicare and Medicaid from insolvency.
The pain management doctor and his wife are both named in the indictment. They will face charges of federal fraud and, if the allegations against them are true, they may also face several civil lawsuits. Of course, now that their house has burned down, it’s unclear what, if any, assets they can be sued against. The plaintiffs will make money if the government elects not to try the case themselves and allows the civil prosecution to take place.
Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you’ve been injured by a negligent doctor, call the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez for a free case evaluation. We will discuss your case and determine its merits under Florida Law. If we believe your case is solid, we will file the lawsuit for you and recover damages. Call today to learn more.