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08/18/2013

Oncologist Criminally Charged for Over-treating End-of-Life Patients

Based on a criminal complaint and indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Dr. Farid Fata may be one of the most irresponsible doctors in the United States.  He is being charged with defrauding Medicare by billing for lots of medically unnecessary chemotherapy. 


Particularly interesting is a supporting affidavit by an FBI agent.  It specifically notes, in several different paragraphs, that aggressive curative treatment at the end of life is medically unnecessary and inappropriate.

  • An oncologist employee of Dr. Fata reported: “Dr. Fata orders chemotherapy for all end-of-life patients. . . . . No other physician would do this and would let the patient die in peace.”
  • An employed NP reported: “Dr. Fata orders chemotherapy for 60-70% of oncology patients who are near the end of their lives.  They are not being allowed to have their last days in comfort.”   


In “Clinicians May Not Administer Life-Sustaining Treatment Without Consent: Civil, Criminal, and Disciplinary Sanctions,” I recently argued that the fraud and abuse laws are one type of legal sanction that can be imposed on clinicians who administer unwanted interventions.  While there appears to be more than enough other evidence to convict Dr. Fata, this case could be the camel’s nose in the “tent” of DOJ (and qui tam relators) using fraud and abuse laws to sanction the use of overly aggressive interventions on end-of-life patients.

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