After taking Hippocratic Oath, doctor practices hypocrisy; gets 45 years in prison
When in doubt, we should not hesitate to ask questions, and if the doctor is evasive in giving answers, we should be extra cautious while dealing with such doctors
In a shocking incident of hypocrisy, cheating and Medicare fraud, a doctor from Detroit, US, has been sentenced to 45 years in jail for intentionally prescribing over 9,000 unnecessary injections and infusions to at least 553 patients over a six-year period as per the report in Newsweek dated 10 July 2015. These treatments amounted to nearly $35 million in insurance billings.
As per the media report, Dr Farid Fata, a 50-year old haematologist-oncologist of Detroit, Michigan pleaded guilty to giving cancer treatments to misdiagnosed patients, telling some that they had a terminal blood cancer called multiple myeloma and giving them unnecessary chemotherapy treatment in order to claim millions in health insurance. The court held that Dr Fata administered stunning doses of the strong and expensive drug ‘Rituximab’ to his patients exposing them to life threatening conditions. Newsweek further reported that the drug, which is usually given up to eight times for aggressive lymphoma was given to one patient 94 times and another 76 and in all Dr Fata gave out over 9,000 unnecessary injections. He kept a tight leash on information by denying patients access to their full medical files—preventing them from being able to effectively seek a second opinion, the report said.
Dr Fata, a naturalized citizen of US, originally a native of Lebanon, was a trusted oncologist in the community. He was trained at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York and founded Michigan Hematology and Oncology Inc, the state's largest private cancer practice at the time of his arrest. This is, therefore, a heinous example of misusing the trust and confidence of the patients by one of the noted medical practitioners, who out of sheer greed and aggrandizement cheated on the innocent patients who suffered incalculable harm physically, emotionally and financially as well.
Dr Fata pleaded guilty to 13 counts of Medicare fraud, one count of conspiracy to receive payments and two counts of money laundering. He was forced to forfeit $17.6 million that he had amassed from Medicare and private insurance companies. Fata reported to have delivered an emotional apology in court as he was sentenced to over four decades in prison.
According to CNN, Dr Fata turned to face those who were at his sentencing and apologised saying: “I have violated the Hippocratic oath and violated the trust of my patients. I do not know how I can heal the wound. I do not know how to express the sorrow and the shame.”
As per the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Hippocratic Oath, ethical code attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, adopted as a guide to conduct by the medical profession throughout the ages and still used in the graduation ceremonies of many medical schools. In the oath, the physician pledges to prescribe only beneficial treatments, according to his abilities and judgment; to refrain from causing harm or hurt; and to live an exemplary personal and professional life.
In stark contrast to this ethical code, Dr Feta brazenly and with criminal intent totally abdicated his professional responsibility and practised hypocrisy with monstrous effect on the hapless patients. The Federal prosecutors called the doctor the “most egregious fraudster in the history of this country,” saying that for Dr. Fata “patients were not people. They were profit centres.”
What lessons to learn from this horrid incident?
Though this happened in United States, human nature being what it is, we can learn several lessons from this horrid incident:
  1. Firstly, it is not desirable to have implicit faith in any one physician, whatever be his qualifications and popularity. When in doubt, we should not hesitate to ask questions, and if the doctor is evasive in giving answers, we should be extra cautious while dealing with such doctors.
  2. It is always advisable to take a second opinion when the sickness is unusual to ensure that the proposed treatment is on right lines, and decide on the course of treatment based on our own best of judgement in consultation with our family.
  3. In the words of Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee, “A good doctor is one who knows how to treat patients; a better doctor is one who knows when to interfere in the patients’ problems. But the best doctor is one who knows when NOT to interfere with patients. Patients need the full of empathy of the best doctors.” We should, therefore, try to identify the best doctor of the type described above and go to him, if we are lucky to find one.
However, I must admit that when one is both physically and mentally down with undiagnosed sickness, all these lessons do not hold water, and as it is said ‘experience is the best teacher’ when chips are down.
(The author is a financial analyst, writing for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’.)
Sanjay Shah
9 years ago
Dear Editor
Why does this article belong to a site like Moneylife. It is neither about finance nor about India. I think you should respect the reason of subscriber being here on this site.
Sucheta Dalal
Replied to Sanjay Shah comment 9 years ago
One half of our name -- Moneylife -- is about life. This is about the life part of moneylife and the article has been hugely appreciated.
In fact, articles by Prof Hegde, mentioned here, have their own fan following both in the magazine and online.

We also plan an occasional series on Healthcare related issues by Mr Ramesh Arunachalam.

So please get ready for more. The online edition is FREE, without subscription and if you do not want to read about these issues, there is nothing to stop you from skipping the article.
Even if you are a paid subscriber of the magazine, please skip the page.

Please respect the editor's decision on these issues.
MG Warrier
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 9 years ago
Nothing to worry. Some protest and dissent can be accommodated. Moneylife has all along been giving a mix of money, life and matters concerning life. This website gives news, analyses and well-researched articles in addition to news and views from within the country and outside. The criticism has come perhaps because of the individual's 'attachment' to moneylife! Once the idea that this is a newspaper plus magazine (Two-in-one) dedicated to percolation of infirmation and knowledge sinks, reader will have less problem.
subramanian dharmarajan
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 9 years ago
completely agree.the name moneylife itself is a hint that this magazine and its owners care about life as well as money of its readers and everyone else since both are equally necessary.more power to them
Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 9 years ago
Madam Sucheta,

Such articles are needed in future on Moneylife's site.

This is an eye opening article to medical fraternity in India. Almost 95% of the doctors prescribe medicines, which are almost three times costlier, than similar medicines are available with generic names with same quality and same strength, but are not prescribed, by the doctors, as doctors are getting huge commission from such medicine companies.

Doctors ask patients to go to a particular medical shop to buy their prescrbed medicines, particular pathology labs for getting patients' pathological tests. Some times doctors even ask patients to get done some pathological tests, which are costly and not required by the patients. Doctors while writing such tests, there is understanding between pathology labs and such doctors. Laboratories do only required cheap pathology tests, and pass extra amount so collected by labs to the doctors, who prescribe such tests.

Doctors ask patients to go to particular hospitals for their operations. In such hospitals, they first inflate the charges, and then decrease the charge as discount to the patient of that doctor, to whom they claim to be the friend of the surgeon, just to keep patient happy. Still hospital has over charged the patient, amount of which is passed to the doctor, who referred the patient to that hospital for the operation.

Prof Dr Hegde, from his informative articles in Moneylife fortnightly has exposed several malpractices continued in medical field.

If such things, as happened in the present article, if it has happened in India, doctor would have gone scotch free. Such a doctor would have put a defamation case against the complainant and doctor would have won, by hiring some good advocate. Such thing has not happened in America.

We want much more such articles to be published in Moneylife's electronic magazine, so that any reader can write his opinion just by typing himself directly in E-magazine.
9 years ago
what is EXPECTED from system is not mainteneble in INDIA because of BAD POLITICS and non existence of ethical code.
Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag
9 years ago
In American, for his misdeeds, a doctor was sentenced to jail for 45 years.
Will such things will happen in India for a wrong doing by a doctor?
Sunil Suryanarayan
9 years ago
When will we have such exemplary punishments to doctors involved in regular malpractice in India ???
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