A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Dr. Farid Fata, the Michigan oncologist who has been on trial for bilking millions of dollars out of Medicare and other insurance companies.
Worse than the fraud is that he actually falsely diagnosed patients with cancer and/or treated them unnecessarily with expensive, harmful chemotherapy drugs.
The good news is that he has been sentenced to 45 years in a federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman this week heard stories of brittle bones and fried organs as patients chillingly described the effects of excessive chemotherapy at the hands of Dr. Farid Fata.
Fata “shut down whatever compassion he had as a doctor and switched it to making money,” Borman said.
Moments earlier, the judge called it a “huge, horrific series of criminal acts.”
His victims—those that survived—feel his punishment should have been more severe. The prosecution was going for 175 years. But Fata is 50 years old; even with time off for good behavior it’s unlikely he will enjoy any quality life outside of prison.
The bad news is that none of the media reports I have read over the last few weeks addresses this issue: How was this over-the-top example of fraud allowed to continue for so many years??
The government said 553 people have been identified as victims, along with four insurance companies. There were more than 9,000 unnecessary infusions or injections.
[An expert witness] was asked about patients who were given a drug called Rituximab, which can weaken the immune system if overused. It is typically given eight times for aggressive lymphoma, but one patient got it 94 times. Another got it 76 times.
As the original post I wrote pointed out, Fata’s scheme was only discovered accidentally by another physician. Neither Medicare nor the other insurance companies questioned the excessive treatments and billings.
Did no one notice? Did no one care? I wish I had an answer.
All patients can do is choose their physicians and treatment plans very carefully, and ask lots of questions. And don’t be afraid to seek second opinions or change doctors.
Here are some resources that might help:
- The National Cancer Institute: How to Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility If You Have Cancer
- ProPublica’s Treatment Tracker: How does your physician compare with others in regards to type and frequency of services billed?
If something doesn’t seem right about about how you are being treated, don’t hesitate to speak up!