Trial is underway in Louisiana against a Lafayette cardiologist charged with swindling Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers by billing for unnecessary medical procedures. Dr. Mehmood M. Patel stands accused of multiple counts of health care fraud involving more than 70 patients given unnecessary angioplasties, stents and other heart procedures. The Justice Department initiated an investigation of Patel in March 2002 after a nurse, Neal Kinn, filed a whistle-blower complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although Patel has pleaded innocent, two Lafayette hospitals have already settled False Claims Act suits arising out of Patel’s work there. Lafayette General Medical Center and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center settled federal False Claims Act lawsuits charging that the hospitals refused to take action on complaints about Patel.
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