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Hundreds of unnecessary surgeries were done by physician assistant in $150m fraud

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 29 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5192
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

Two doctors are among 15 people indicted in California in a $150m (£100m; €135m) medical insurance fraud in which conditions requiring surgery were falsely diagnosed in patients who were then operated on by an unqualified assistant.

The alleged ringleader of the fraud, the Stanford and Harvard trained orthopedic surgeon Munir Uwaydah, 49, is accused of paying kickbacks to compensation lawyers and other intermediaries to refer patients to his company, Frontline Medical Services of Los Angeles. Larger amounts were paid for referrals that led to surgery, prosecutors allege, and in some cases reluctant patients were also paid to go under the knife so that their insurers could be billed. Uwaydah also allegedly altered magnetic resonance imaging reports to justify surgery.

In hundreds of cases, the prosecutors claim, patients were anesthetized believing that Uwaydah would operate on them, only to have him leave the operation …

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