Dr Mehmood Patel, an interventional cardiologist, has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for performing unnecessary surgeries on unsuspecting patients. The doctor, who formerly practiced at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and Lafayette General Hospital in Louisiana received maximum sentence after being convicted on 51 counts of billing government and private health insurers for unnecessary procedures.
US District Court Judge Tucker Melancon said Patel was "a brilliant and talented physician". He added that it was not clear if he undertook this scheme for greed or to satisfy his ego. Nevertheless, he was sentenced for the maximum time.
From 1999 to 2003 Dr Patel billed Medicare to the tune of $3 million and pocketed $500,000 for himself. It has emerged that he also falsified medical records to include chest pain where none existed. The 64-year-old doctor was sentenced after a 11-week trial, during which experts from Emory University, the University of Pennsylvania, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and the University of California, Los Angeles testified that Patel performed interventional procedures like stent implantation even if there was little or no disease.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and Lafayette General Hospital suspended Patel in 2004 after their own investigations indicated healthcare fraud. The Hospital also paid damages to US Department of Justice and also settled a class-action lawsuit for $7.4 million.