Posted on June 29, 2014 in Medical Malpractice
Two doctors at an Elizabethtown clinic are under
investigation by the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board after being accused of
prolonging chemotherapy treatments for their patients, according to a Louisville
Courier-Journal article. By extending treatment time, the
doctors were able to collect more money from Medicaid and Medicare.
Earlier this month, Drs. Yusuf Deshmukh and Rafiq
Ur Rahman and their Elizabethtown Hematology-Oncology Clinic signed an
agreement to pay almost $4 million to the U.S. and Kentucky to settle claims
that they unnecessarily extended the length of time for chemotherapy infusion
treatments to overbill patients’ health insurance and make more money. The
settlement also states that the doctors and clinic inappropriately billed office visits for treatments.
"Manipulating treatment protocols and
lengthening infusion times to increase reimbursement reflect an extraordinary
lack of regard for patient welfare and the integrity of our health care
system," said U.S. Attorney David Hale in a news release.
Federal records revealed that together the two
doctors billed over 5,000 times for providing additional hours of chemotherapy
to over 100 patients.
According to the original suit filed in 2011 by
Dr. Ijaz Mahmood, a former doctor at the Elizabethtown clinic, the clinic’s
written guidelines called for patients to be treated three to four times longer
than recommended; in practice, patients were treated six to eight times longer.
For instance, breast cancer patients should have
received the drug Paclitaxel for 30 to 60 minutes under national protocols.
However, the clinic told staff via written instructions to infuse Paclitaxel
for no less than three hours. According to the lawsuit, the treatment was
actually administered to patients for six to eight hours.
The lawsuit also claimed that some patients were
hooked up to IVs for several hours – even though they could have simply
received an injection of the chemotherapy drug.
Dr. Ed Chu, the chief of Hematology-Oncology at
the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, told USA Today that extending
the length of time of chemotherapy treatments could have affected the efficacy
of the drugs.
Elizabethtown patient speaks out
Earlier this month The Courier-Journal profiled Amber
Pike, a former patient of the Elizabethtown Hematology-Oncology Clinic. Pike,
an Elizabethtown resident who sought treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1992
at the clinic and returned in 2010 for breast cancer treatment, said she was told she needed chemo and
radiology for 18 months. But she sought additional opinions from the James
Graham Brown Cancer Center and Norton Cancer Institute, and both told her the
same treatment would only take 7.5 months.
After reading about the clinic’s settlement
agreement earlier in June, she believes her treatment in 1992 was unnecessarily
extended and that her experience would have been similar if she had sought
treatment for her breast cancer from Dr. Deshhmukh.
say that I am appalled … is a gross understatement," said Pike.
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If you or a loved one has questions about chemotherapy treatments
you have received in the Elizabethtown area, we encourage you to contact our firm. With our team’s medical
experience, we can thoroughly and quickly review your case at no charge. If we
accept your case, we will pursue maximum compensation.
By seeking the maximum legal recourse against negligent physicians
and hospitals, together we can help prevent future medical malpractice.