The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the conviction of a cardiologist for healthcare fraud back in 2019. According to the feds, beginning in 2008 the medical professional submitted fraudulent claims to government and private insurance programs for outpatient treatments using an External Counter Pulsation machine. The machine uses pressure on the patient’s lower extremities to increase blood flow to the heart.
The treatment is reimbursable for patients who suffer disabling angina, chest pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart. However, the prosecution presented evidence the cardiologist used and billed the service for a wide range of treatments, allegedly marketing the treatment as a veritable fountain of youth. The feds state this led to over $13 million in claims for medically unnecessary treatments and that the cardiologist received more than $3.5 million in payments.
The case went to trial, and a jury took two hours to deliberate over the evidence before it found the cardiologist, Samirkumar J. Shah, guilty of two counts of healthcare fraud.
Just recently, the convicted cardiologist was scheduled for sentencing. He reportedly skipped out on multiple court hearings and the judge needed to issue an arrest warrant in more than one instance to get him back into court. During his sentencing, the judge pointed to this history as a reason for denying the cardiologist’s request for a lenient sentence. Instead, he got the full sentence: 6 and a half years imprisonment.
The lesson here: take court dates seriously. Judges do not appreciate those who skip out on court dates and it can have a negative impact on your case.