9 physician legal cases making headlines

Here are nine court cases involving physicians to know, as reported by Becker's since Dec. 4:

1. Paul Giacopelli, MD, an anesthesiologist who works at New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health in Westchester and Long Island, both in New York, with privileges at Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel Hamlet, N.Y., was arrested for allegedly giving a woman anesthesia without her knowledge and sexually abusing her on multiple occasions. He was accused of four counts each of first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree assault.

2. The conviction of Ron Elfenbein, MD, who was was originally convicted of five counts of healthcare fraud for submitting more than $15 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and other insurers for COVID-19 tests, was vacated by a federal judge based on the ambiguity of E/M CPT codes used. 

3. Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group, both based in Dallas, and St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston — which is part of the health system — were accused of violating Stark law, allegedly paying Arvind Agnihotri, MD — St. Elizabeth's chief of surgery — nearly $4.9 million in incentive compensation. 

4. Jasser Thiara, MD, an OB-GYN who practiced in Fairfax, Va., pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a total of $5.3 million for obstructing the IRS by underreporting income and filing false tax returns. 

5. Niranjan Mittal, MD, a New York City-based cardiologist, was charged with healthcare fraud and bribery. According to the indictment, Dr. Mittal is accused of billing Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers more than $100 million for the cardiovascular procedures. 

6. Charbal Bazo, MD, and Frank Pilato, a physician and his physician assistant in Port Huron, Mich., pleaded no contest to overprescribing opioids, among other charges. Both were sentenced to two years of probation. 

7. Lexington, Ky.-based Appalachian Regional Healthcare and Padubidri Chandrashekar, MD, will pay more than $3 million to settle allegations of submitting improper Medicare and Medicaid claims. The allegations claim that Dr. Chandrashekar, a cardiologist at the health system, caused ARH to bill for diagnostic catheterizations that did not have sufficient documentation to prove medical necessity.

8. Thomas Webster, MD, a Washington-based physician, was charged for his alleged role in a medical supply scheme that defrauded Medicare and Tricare of more than $13.7 million. 

9. Las Vegas-based physician William Alvear, MD, was convicted of unlawful distribution of opioid medications.

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