Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath when they are legally given a license to begin practicing. As many of us know, a focal point of the oath states that a doctor will never knowingly harm a patient. Unfortunately, some medical practitioners succumb to greed despite this oath as a caretaker. Medical malpractice was displayed in one of its worst forms when Dr. Fata, located in Detroit, Michigan, chose to knowingly misdiagnose patients with cancer for the sole purpose of personal financial gain. Due to his actions, Dr. Fata committed both medical malpractice and healthcare fraud during the course of several years, causing grief for countless families and placing his patients' lives at risk.
In Detroit, Michigan, a hematology and oncology doctor has been arrested after unnecessarily treating patients for cancer. The doctor’s name is Farid Fata, from Oakland County. While presiding over his case, Judge Sean Cox has significantly increased Dr. Fata’s bail. To be released from federal custody before trial, Dr. Fata would now have to post a bail bond that is 53-times larger than its original bail amount.
Healthcare Fraud Investigation
When Dr. Fata was first arrested, his bond was set at $170,000. During pre-trial proceedings, Dr. Fata’s defense attorney requested that the judge decrease Fata’s bail amount. The defense attorney claimed that the doctor’s assets had been either frozen or seized by the government during the healthcare fraud investigation. In response, the prosecution stated that Dr. Fata should not be released from federal custody at all, claiming he posed a flight risk. During the proceedings, an FBI agent testified that Dr. Fata and his wife have roughly $9.4 million in assets still available to them. The U.S. government had already seized $7.1 million in assets from Fata and his wife at the time of the FBI agent’s testimony. Furthermore, Dr. Fata’s connections in Lebanon increased the flight risk significantly. As a result, Judge Sean Cox increased Dr. Fata’s bail amount to $9 million in early August, 2013.
Cancer treatment is a serious undertaking for any patient. The most popular forms of cancer treatment include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The health risks and common side effects of both types of cancer treatments are severe. Patients frequently feel nauseous during cancer treatment, causing them to lose weight and become frail. Malnutrition may further result in hair loss, difficulty breathing, and a greater risk of broken bones or bruises. Overall, there is a decreased quality of life for the patient during cancer treatment. This makes it very important that the patient receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy actually has cancer. Otherwise, cancer treatment is causing unnecessary harm to the patient.
Chemotherapy for Cancer
Many people do not know the difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of a chemical. The specific chemical that is used may vary between doctors’ opinions. Ultimately, the chemical used during chemotherapy acts as a poison. The chemical will either kill cells that are already multiplying, or it will block the chemical paths that cells use to multiply. This poison is supposed to be carefully selected by a medical professional, to cause the most damage to cells that are actually cancerous. The American Cancer Society
provides an excellent resource for additional information on chemotherapy.
Radiation Therapy for Cancer
Radiation therapy is used in a highly-concentrated manner. This type of cancer therapy may involve a radioactive fluid, a radioactive seed, or a very narrow X-ray. The radiation acts by killing the DNA within nearby cells, so the cells in that area will not multiply. The American Cancer Society also provides a great resource on additional radiation therapy information
Second Medical Opinion for Cancer Diagnosis
All patients diagnosed with cancer should seek out a second medical opinion. Cancer treatment is too risky and too intense to not, at the very least, have the diagnosis confirmed by multiple doctors. If a cancer misdiagnosis has occurred, the patient will be able to avoid serious injury by getting a second medical opinion.
Cancer Medical Malpractice
A cancer misdiagnosis may or may not be considered medical malpractice. In some cases, the doctor may have done everything in his or her power to obtain an accurate diagnosis. In other cases, such as Dr. Fata’s case, a cancer misdiagnosis may be the direct result of greed.
Unnecessary Medical Treatment
Allegations against Dr. Fata claim that he intentionally misdiagnosed healthy patients with cancer. His purpose for diagnosing healthy patients with cancer was to make more money. By diagnosing patients with cancer, Dr. Fata was able to treat them with chemotherapy that they did not need. Chemotherapy is not only risky, but it is also very expensive. Dr. Fata billed Medicare for approximately $24.3 million dollars in drug infusions during one two-year period. This was the largest Medicare bill submitted by any hematologist or oncologist practicing in Michigan. In addition to cancer misdiagnosis for personal profit, Dr. Fata is accused of other medical malpractice and healthcare fraud activity including:
- Administering chemotherapy to patients who were terminally ill and could not benefit from cancer treatment
- Misdiagnosing patients with anemia to administer unnecessary hematology treatment
- Misdiagnosing patients with severe fatigue to administer unnecessary hematology treatment
- Distribution of prescription medications at dangerous levels
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: Dugdale, David, ed. "Chemotherapy." MedLine Plus. National Institutes of Health, 05 Jun 2012. Web. 29 Aug 2013. <https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002324.htm
>. "Radiation Therapy for Cancer." National Cancer Institute. National Institutes of Health, 30 Jun 2010. Web. 29 Aug 2013. <https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/radiation