According to ABC News on Thursday, an orthopedic surgeon accused of botching or faking hundreds of surgeries surrendered today and was charged with one count of healthcare fraud.
Scheduling as many as 22 surgeries a day, an almost unheard of workload, Panos was billing for work never completed and his out of control greed resulted in the death of a 76-year-old woman, one of the lawsuits alleges.
Dr. Spyros Panos, who worked in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was arrested this morning at the federal court in White Plains, N.Y. He pleaded not guilty to the felony charge and was released on $100,000 bail.
It's not clear from court documents how much jail time Panos could face if convicted, if any, but the charge carries a fine up to $5 million.
Health insurance fraud is big business. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association has estimated that of the $1.7 trillion spent on health care in the United States in 2003, from 3 to 5 percent was lost to fraud, hurting insurers that pay claims, companies that pay premiums and patients who are asked to pay assume ever more of the burden.
The charges state that from 2007 through 2011 Panos reported performing "thousands of surgical procedures, often as many as 20 or more in a single day," included many which were never really carried out. Panos and the medical group submitted claims in excess of $35 million to health care providers."
The charges go on to say that Panos' former employer, the Mid Hudson Medical Group, profited more than $13 million from Panos' activities during that time period and Panos made $7.5 million. He has been ordered to pay back $5 million to the federal government.
Panos surrendered his medical license in September following charges of medical misconduct, a fact Smith kept alluding to in court by referring to him as Mr. Panos rather than Dr. Panos. The former surgeon faced at least 250 counts brought by the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct involving fraud and negligence between 2007 and 2011, a court order showed.
However, his lawyer says that Panos still has a medical licence to practice in Virginia, and it could be years before any charges are brought against him, and he can still legally practice there.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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