A 59-year-old Salisbury doctor was sentenced recently by a federal court to eight years in prison. The doctor was found guilty of medical malpractice for implanting unnecessary stents in patients and reaping the financial benefit from insurers.
Failure to diagnose can be one of many reasons a medical professional is tried for medical malpractice in court. In the case of the Peninsula Regional Medical Center physician, repeated and unneeded diagnoses were found to be the problem.
The sentencing judge felt the doctor was motivated by easy money to push patients into relatively uncomplicated, but lucrative stent operations. The physician allegedly performed the $10,000 artery-widening procedures from 2003 to 2007 on patients who did not require them.
Some of the doctor’s former patients testified that the operations had negative effects. One woman claimed she had a heart attack on the operating table caused by a dye used in the procedure. Another patient said he nearly died from being told to take prescription blood thinners.
Prosecutors said the doctor manipulated patients’ records at PRMC to reflect a need for stent surgery and charged insurers for post-operative tests that were not necessary.
The accused doctor resigned from his position with PRMC last year following an internal hospital investigation. The hospital was held responsible for not preventing the unnecessary surgeries and paid a $1.8 million settlement.
The cardiologist was convicted this summer of health care fraud and is planning an appeal. The physician was ordered to give back $579,000 taken in proceeds and pay the same in restitution to insurers.