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Michigan neurosurgeon is charged with healthcare fraud for sham surgeries

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 05 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7463
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

A Michigan neurosurgeon could face 10 or more years in prison after the US federal government accused him of billing Medicare and commercial insurers for $33m (£21m; €27m) while performing sham lumbar spinal fusion surgeries.

Aria Sabit, 40, was arrested on 24 November and charged with five counts of healthcare fraud.1 Each of the five counts carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, which could be imposed consecutively.

In September, he was the first doctor to face criminal charges as the government tightened its scrutiny of physician owned distributorships, in which surgeons buy stakes in companies acting as middlemen for device makers and then receive a cut when they order the devices from their own distributorships to perform surgery.

Sabit was the subject of a front page story in the Wall Street Journal last year, which detailed how he profited from implants that he used in dozens of spinal fusion surgeries in California, one of which ended …

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