Detroit Oncologist Knowingly Gave Patients Unnecessary Chemotherapy

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According to local news sources and the Associated Press, a Detroit-area cancer specialist has pleaded guilty to over a dozen federal charges relating to his care of cancer patients.

Dr. Farid Fata, owner of Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers, which has several locations in the Detroit area, was facing 29 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy and other charges and was scheduled to go on trial next month. Instead he went in front of US District Judge Paul Borman and pleaded guilty to 13 counts health care fraud, one count of conspiracy and two counts of money laundering.

Several allegations have been made against Fata regarding the deliberate misdiagnosis of patients in order to justify administering treatments-- including the administration of chemotherapy to terminally ill patients who had no chance of benefiting from the treatment; false diagnoses of fatigue and anemia to justify hematological treatments; and the distribution of prescription drugs at "dangerous levels."

According to court documents, one colleague of Fata's told FBI investigators that after he learned that Fata had ordered chemotherapy for a patient whose disease was in remission, he told that patient they should leave that office and never come back.

Documents also included the strange allegation that, after a male patient had fallen and hit his head at Fata's clinic, that Fata insisted the man receive chemotherapy before he went off to an emergency room.

Fata routinely took patients' medical records home with him, and would order PET scans and other treatments when they weren't necessary. In one example cited in court documents, whereas treatment guidelines said a particular patient of Dr. Fata's should have received 12 infusions of Rituxan over two years for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, instead Fata ordered that the patient receive 56 infusions over two years.

All told, the cancer centers owned by Fata sent over $109 million in Medicare claims for cancer treatments in a six year span starting in August 2007 through July of 2013.

The court documents are available here (opens as PDF).

Sources: WILX

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