DETROIT (CBS Detroit) A Michigan doctor was arrested Tuesday on allegations of trying to make money from chemotherapy treatments to the point of intentionally misdiagnosing people with cancer.
Dr. Farid Fata, 48, of Oakland Township was arrested Tuesday and charged for allegedly submitting false claims to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary, including chemotherapy treatments, Positron Emission Tomograph (PET) scans and a variety of cancer and hematology treatments for patients who did not need them. Dr. Fata owns and operates Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers (MHO) which has offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park.
The charges were announced by U. S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“Our first priority is patient care. The agents and attorneys acted with great attention to detail to stop these allegedly dangerous practices as quickly as possible, and we have set up a victim hotline so that patients can access their files and get questions answered,” United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said.
One of those with questions is Ryan Donnelly of Yale, Mich., who wants to know what he’s supposed to do next for his 78-year-old mother who is scheduled to get treatment. He took her usual facility, McClaren in Clarkston, but they couldn’t get in.
“This is not like she’s got the common cold, we have to do this regimen of chemotherapy as it’s prescribed, and thanks to our U.S. attorneys office, they’ve just ceased all this like it was a family practice they were raiding or something,” Donnelly said. “People are upset there at that office right now, they’ve just stopped everything. They’re not giving us any option other than to just go home right now.”
In the course of the scheme, prosecutors say Dr. Fata falsified and directed others to falsify documents. MHO billed Medicare for approximately $35 million dollars over a two-year period, approximately $25 of which is attributable to Dr. Fata, federal officials said
The complaint further alleges that Dr. Fata directed the administration of unnecessary chemotherapy to patients in remission; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients as having cancer to justify unnecessary cancer treatment; administration of chemotherapy to end-of-life patients who will not benefit from the treatment; deliberate misdiagnosis of patients without cancer to justify expensive testing; fabrication of other diagnoses such as anemia and fatigue to justify unnecessary hematology treatments, and distribution of controlled substances to patients without medical necessity or are administered at dangerous levels.
The complaint goes on to allege that Dr. Fata directed that chemotherapy be administered to patients who had other serious medical conditions that required immediate treatment before he would permit them to go to the hospital. In one instance, a male patient fell down and hit his head when he came to MHO.
Dr. Fata allegedly insisted that the patient stop and receive chemotherapy before he could be taken to the emergency room. MHO administered the chemotherapy, after which the patient was taken to the emergency room. The patient later died from his head injury. In the second instance, a patient came to MHO with extremely low sodium levels, which can be fatal. Prosecutors say Dr. Fata again directed that the patient first receive chemotherapy before being taken to the emergency room. MHO administered the chemotherapy and the patient was taken to the emergency room and hospitalized.
Prosecutors are still on the lookout for more victims: Patients who have questions concerning their medical records and/or information regarding this investigation and prosecution can call the United States Attorney’s Office Information Line at 888-702-0553.