A cardiologist, convicted of performing “medically unnecessary” heart procedures back in 2008, lost an appeal to overturn his conviction and will serve the maximum 10-year sentence handed out by the jury, the Associated Press reports.
Dr. Mehmood Patel, chief cardiologist at LSU Medical Center and owner of Acadiana Cardiology Center in Lafayette, La. was convicted on 51 counts of health care fraud including billing $89,000 to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies for unnecessary cardiology procedures between February 2001 and January 2004.
Court documents contend that Patel performed more diagnostic angiograms and stents than his peers and characterized him as an “assembly-line” doctor whose procedures outpaced other cardiologists in number of patients and number of procedures performed. Patel contended that his high case load was due to efficiency, hard work and popularity with patients.
Patel was also accused of falsifying patient records, documenting that patients complained of chest pain which was contrary to later court testimony.
He was given the statutory maximum sentence of ten years citing the vulnerability of the patients involved and obstruction of justice. Additionally, Patel was fined $175,000, ordered to pay $387,511 in restitution to his patients and $48,631 in forfeiture.
During his appeal, lawyers for Patel ran the gamut of arguments for why his conviction should be overturned: The law is unconstitutionally vague as it applies to his prosecution, his Fourth Amendment rights were violated, the evidence against him was insufficient, the jury’s instructions were weak and the district court coerced the jury, etc., according to documents released by the court.
In the end, all of the arguments were refuted and the appeals court affirmed the 10-year sentence.