Medicare and Medicaid fraud is rampant in society, and both patients and taxpayers pay the hefty price. A new federal lawsuit accuses a Chicago psychiatrist of receiving unlawful kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies and submitting more than 100,00 false Medicare and Medicaid claims. This was extremely dangerous for his patients, because the psychiatrist regularly prescribed them anti-psychotic drugs based solely on kickbacks and not on their individual needs.
As the Chicago Tribune is reporting, the psychiatrist submitted over 140,000 false claims for drugs that he prescribed to mentally ill nursing home patients. He also falsely reported that he provided pharmacologic management services to nursing home patients in about 30 nursing homes nationwide.
Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm note that people visit doctors in the confidence that the doctor’s treatment will make them better. However, this particular doctor had a history of overmedicating his patients with very risky drugs. He routinely prescribed psychiatric medications to his patients, not considering their needs but rather the reimbursements he got from pharmaceutical companies.
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One dangerous medication that the psychiatrist relied heavily on for his patients is clozapine, which carries 5 FDA black box warnings- the most serious type. His clozapine prescriptions have already been tied to three patient deaths. Records show that he prescribed more clozapine prescriptions on his own than the entire group of doctors in Texas.
He also regularly prescribed Clozaril, a type of clozapine that is manufactured by the drugmaker Novartis. The drugmaker reportedly paid him to promote the drug. Often times, up to 1,000 of his patients were using the drug at the same time.
When the drug manufacturer’s patent expired, he refused to switch his prescriptions to the generic version of the drug, and was the biggest Clozaril prescriber in the country for Medicaid beneficiaries.
In 2003, Novartis stopped its regular payments to the psychiatrist. So the psychiatrist offered to change his patients over to the Ivax Pharmaceuticals-manufactured generic clozapine if the company agreed to various conditions. These conditions required them to pay for a clozapine research study performed by a health institute that he was affiliated with, pay one of his nurses to speak in support of the medication, and pay him $50,000 directly for his consulting services.
Ivax agreed to the conditions and the accused immediately started making the medication change. He quickly became the biggest prescriber of generic clozapine in the nation. His excessive prescription of clozapine was in stark contrast to its very limited prescription by other physicians.
Prescription medication fraud is not the only form of medical malpractice harming patients. Medical errors also cause serious injuries and even deaths. A 2011 Medical Errors Report from the Indiana Department of Health found that a Terre Haute hospital injected anesthesia into the wrong body part of a patient. In addition, at least two patients developed Stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcers after admission.
In another hospital medical error instance, a foreign object was still in the patient’s body after surgery. So the hospital was actually responsible for at least 4 medical errors that year.
In the entire state, there were reports of 100 incidents last year in ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals. Only six of the incidents took place at outpatient surgery centers, while the remaining 94 took place at hospitals.
The hospital is reportedly evaluating procedures and instituting new safety measurements. So far, there has only been one medical error problem this year, which shows that the hospital’s efforts may be paying off.
If you or a loved one was victimized by a medical mistake, you may be entitled to significant compensation. A medical malpractice attorney can help you recover lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages.