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State failed to act in ‘most egregious’ Medicare fraud, patient abuse

A Michigan oncologist faces life in prison after years of fraudulent practice that caused immeasurable pain and suffering to countless patients, according to an affadavit. But in 2010, when Fata’s unscrupulous manner of practice was observed and reported by an interviewing nurse, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) failed to act.

Angela Swantek, a chemotherapy nurse, was in an interview for a job in 2010, and noticed something was wrong when she saw the manner in which Fata’s patients were being administered chemotherapy. She wrote LARA immediately with a very detailed description of what she observed.

“I named the medications, how they are supposed to be given and how they were being given in his office and how more patients were being harmed,” she said. “For example, a chemo drug Velcrave is supposed to be pushed through a syringe for 30 seconds. He gives it in an IV bag over an hour… I think there were 16 or 17 chairs and everyone was full … he was moving a lot of patients through like a chemo mill.”

LARA deputy director Steve Gobbo said there was an investigation into Swantek’s accusations, but according to a September 8 report by Detroit Local 4 News, documents revealed that the investigation did not reach a conclusion for a year, when Swantek received a letter asserting the her allegations were “unfounded” and that the case was closed.

Gobbo maintains that the state didn’t make a mistake, and that Swantek should have gone elsewhere to report her complaints.

But Swantek took exception with Gobbo’s comments.

“Where else is there to go? I mean, this is who oversees my license when I need to renew my license,” she said. “What do you have to say in order to warrant an investigation to help them from doing harm to their patients?”

Dr. Farid Fata, aged 49, admitted that for approximately four years he intentionally misdiagnosed and administered chemotherapy to heathy people, and also administered chemotherapy to patients with incurable cancers that did not need chemotherapy.

“It is my choice,” stated Fata, “I knew that it was medically unnecessary.”

According to the affidavit Fata worked at several different locations in Michigan throughout a week. Fata had a patient load of 1,200 people, receiving $62 million from Medicare. Fata billedfor more than $150 million.

Fata, a married father of three, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. He faces sentencing in February before U.S. District Judge Paul Borman. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stated that she is seeking life in prison for Fata, citing the case as the “most egregious” health care fraud case she has ever seen.