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Detroit oncologist who falsely diagnosed cancer and treated hundreds gets 45 year sentence

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 13 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3825
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

The trial of the worst ever medical fraud case in the United States has ended with a Michigan oncologist, who made false diagnoses and unnecessarily treated hundreds of patients, receiving 45 years in federal prison.

Farid Fata, 50, told healthy patients that they had cancer, then gave them massive doses of chemotherapy to maximize his profit.1 He also gave chemotherapy to terminally ill patients whom he took from hospices, offering them the hope of cure to entice them into treatment. The number of patients identified has reached 553. Many were injured permanently by the huge doses of anticancer drugs they received, and an unspecified number died in his care.

Fata pleaded guilty last September to 13 counts of healthcare fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiring to pay and receive kickbacks. He billed patients and insurance companies for $34.7m (£22.3m; €31m), receiving $17.6m, for work he later admitted was unnecessary.

Fata founded Michigan Hematology and Oncology Centers, the state’s largest private cancer practice at the time of his arrest. His scam lasted five years from 2009, prosecutors said, until he was reported to the authorities by his office manager, George Karadsheh. Karadsheh told ABC Nightline that he grew suspicious because staff kept leaving the practice. Finally one oncologist, on quitting, told him that it was because Fata was administering chemotherapy to healthy patients.

“He also pointed out that patients who were receiving chemotherapy without disease were receiving it to the very last day of life,” Karadsheh said. …

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