Zlati Meyer, Detroit Free Press, August 7, 2013
Patients who didn’t have cancer were diagnosed as such. Sick patients were given too-high doses of powerful drugs. Some in remission were sent for unneeded chemotherapy. End-of-life patients were pumped full of drugs that couldn’t help them anymore.
These millions of dollars of medical treatments and tests were billed to Medicare in a pricey health care scheme run by metro Detroit hematologist oncologist Farid Fata, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Tuesday. The complaint says Fata intentionally misdiagnosed patients “as having cancer to justify unnecessary cancer treatment.”
The Oakland Township doctor — who owns and operates Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers with offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park — is also accused of fabricating diagnoses of related ailments; submitting bogus claims for unneeded services, such as chemo, PET scans and cancer and hematology treatments for patients who didn’t need them, and insisting seriously ill patients undergo chemo before letting them go to the hospital.
In one case, the federal complaint outlines, Fata prescribed 56 doses of rituximab to a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient over two years, when the norm would be a dozen in two years. In another instance cited in the complaint, Fata allegedly forced a sick man who’d fallen down and hit his head when he came to the center to get his chemo before he could be taken to the emergency room — and the man later died as a result of the head injury.
Investigators said Fata’s chain of cancer centers billed Medicare for approximately $35 million in two years, approximately $25 million of it from Fata.