In July, a 50-year-old doctor was sentenced to 45 years, which means he will likely die in prison. The prosecutor was asking for a sentence of 175 years because the doctor intentionally misdiagnosed patients and performed unnecessary medical procedures simply to make money. The physician, Dr. Farid Fata, appeared to be crying as his sentence was read, according to Yahoo News. He pleaded guilty to 13-criminal counts, including charges of healthcare fraud and illegal payment of kickbacks.
Most cases of medical negligence or medical misdiagnosis do not end up in criminal court, but the case against Dr. Fata was different. While misdiagnosis routinely occurs accidentally or because of medical negligence, Dr. Fata admitted to intentionally misleading victims about whether they were sick and about what treatment was needed. Intentionally lying to patients to collect healthcare funds is a serious crime.
Even when no crime occurs, patients can still suffer grave harm if a doctor misdiagnoses or mistreatments them. While a prosecutor may not pursue charges against a doctor who harms them, affected patients can file a civil lawsuit and seek compensation for medical negligence under tort laws.
Misdiagnosis is actually one of the leading causes of medical malpractice claims. From delays in treatment to ordering unnecessary medical procedures, doctors often harm innocent people through their reckless behavior. A medical malpractice attorney can help victims of misdiagnosis get compensation they deserve for harm caused by a doctor's errors.
Medical Negligence Has Consequences
The criminal case against Dr. Fata arose out of his misdiagnosis of approximately 550 victims. Some of the patients, who did not have cancer, were incorrectly told they had the life-threatening disease. Others actually did have cancer but were misinformed about their health status and about the types of treatments they needed. Unlike a doctor who is merely negligent in missing signs of a patient's condition, Fata purposefully mislead the patients who were depending upon him.
All of the patients received unnecessary chemotherapy after their misdiagnoses, with Dr. Fata collecting more than $34.7 million for administering around 2,000 chemotherapy treatments which were not medically required. Chemotherapy is a powerful drug, which can kill healthy cells and have a devastating impact on a person's physical condition. While chemotherapy can save lives, it should never be administered to someone who does not need it.
Patients affected by the doctor's medical malpractice spoke about the consequences of the unnecessary treatment at his sentencing hearing. Some reported they had no teeth left (chemotherapy kills cells in the mouth because these cells regenerate quickly). Some reported they had to be on medication for the rest of their lives because of Fata's misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment. Many of the patients given unnecessary chemotherapy developed cancer as a result of the treatment. Some died, including one man whose daughter spoke at Fata's sentencing hearing and who accused Fata of torturing her father.
The consequences to the patients in this tragic case show clearly the price people can pay when doctors fail to provide the care patients deserve. Even when a doctor does not intentionally provide inappropriate treatment, a patient's life can be forever changed.