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Unnecessary Pacemaker Implants Lead To Kentucky Cardiologist Conviction

A pacemaker can be a life saver. It is a small device that is surgically placed into the chest or abdomen of a patient in order to help control his/her abnormal heart rhythms. Pacemakers use electrical pulses which prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate. These life-saving devices are widely known as excellent solutions for people who suffer from arrhythmias which are irregularities with the rate or rhythm of a heartbeat.

As Dean Manning reports on this morning, pacemakers have also been used to defraud Medicare. Dr. Anis Chalhoub of London, Kentucky is a cardiologist who has been implanting an unwarranted number of pacemakers in his patients, simply for the purpose of bilking Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers of insurance money.

Chalhoub was found guilty in April.

As Manning details, Chalhoub was “found guilty in April on federal charges of health care fraud has been sentenced to 42 months (3.5 years) in prison.” The disgraced cardiologist was found to have implanted upwards of 234 pacemakers at St. Joseph London hospital between 2007 and 2011. During that time, Chalhoub coerced his patients into getting pacemaker implants by providing them with misleading information about their medical conditions.

He even went so far as telling patients that they might die by not going through with the procedure. During trial testimony, officials testified that Chalhoub diagnosed his patients with sinus node dysfunction. “In reality, sinus node dysfunction is not fatal,” Manning confirms.

Chalhoub will pay fines in addition to his prison sentence.

In addition to his prison sentence, Chalhoub will also have to pay a $50,000 fine as well as $257,515 in restitution to Medicare, Medicaid and the other insurers he defrauded. As well, once Chalhoub is released from prison, he will be placed on supervised release for three years, reports Manning. The court order specifies that he cannot practice cardiology during his supervised release.

Interestingly enough, Chalhoub still currently has a license to practice. It is set for expiry on February 28, 2019. However, if he chooses to renew his license, he will require credentials at a hospital.

“Doctors seeking credentialing at a hospital must go through a long and extensive credentialing process, which includes an application and background check performed by the Medical Staff Services Office,” explains Manning. United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr. is of the mind that any such application would surely be denied.

“The evidence established that the defendant violated his medical oath and placed greed over patient care,” he is quoted as saying in Manning’s article, “The defendant performed unnecessary medical procedures and needlessly put lives at risk so that he could submit false claims seeking reimbursement for the unnecessary medical procedures.”

“The jury also heard evidence that Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from Dr. Chalhoub’s unnecessary procedures,” Manning quotes officials as saying.

Are you an attorney currently trying a health care fraud case?

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