It sounds like a dream job. A job that involves the review of some paperwork, a signature and a pay check for $400 per week. This type of job could serve as a transition between full-time work and retirement. Unfortunately for one physician that took the job, instead of helping him ease into retirement it may ease him into jail.
The issue began when a friend, a physician’s assistant, informed the former Emergency Department doctor about the position. The government claims the position was part of a complicated health care fraud scheme and built a case against the doctor.
The case went to trial before a United States District judge in Dallas. The government accused the physician of partaking in a scheme that ran from 2007 through 2015. The doctor allegedly illegally certified patients for Medicare services. The prosecution stated he signed documents without a thorough review. This led to Medicare payments for patients that were receiving care they did not need. In some cases, the government argued these patients did not even have a patient/doctor relationship with the accused. Instead the doctor simply “rubber stamped” his name on the paperwork and “blindly” signed off on medical documents.
Ultimately, the jury found in favor of the government. They agreed with the prosecution, noting a physician should learn about a patient before signing off on documents. The physician was convicted of four separate counts of fraud. He now faces sentencing which could include prison time, probation and a monetary fine.
The case provides an important lesson for physicians: use your signature wisely. Many physicians are careful, but a single misstep could result in allegations of wrongdoing. If this happens, contact an attorney to help protect your professional reputation.