Attorney Discusses Legal Pitfalls Faced by New Physicians, Mentions Dr. Dipak Desai
Newly licensed doctors must take care not only to provide top-quality medical care, but also to avoid numerous potential legal perils.
That was the advice attorney Crane Pomerantz provided recently to UNLV School of Medicine internal medicine residents — physicians who have finished medical school and are now receiving training in their chosen specialty. He emphasized that doctors just starting their careers can unwittingly end up in legal trouble.
Pomerantz knows his way around health care law. He was the criminal health care fraud coordinator in the U.S. attorney’s office for the district of Nevada, where he worked for almost 14 years.
Four years ago, Pomerantz was doing something far different than talking to medical residents. He stood in a Las Vegas courtroom as an assistant U.S. attorney and spoke of a physician, Dr. Dipak Desai, who intentionally defrauded the government by inflating the length of medical procedures and overbilling Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies for anesthesia.
Pomerantz called Desai, a gastroenterologist, a “despicable human being” who was driven in medical practice by “wanton, crass greed.”
Desai would receive 71 months in prison for his role in the multimillion-dollar health care fraud scheme — a federal conviction that was to be served concurrently with a life sentence that Desai received earlier in state court for his role in a 2007 hepatitis outbreak at clinics where colonoscopies were performed. Health officials, who said unsafe injection practices involving the reuse of syringes for anesthesia led to the outbreak, had to notify 63,000 former Desai clinic patients to get tested for potentially fatal blood-borne diseases, including hepatitis and HIV. Two former Desai clinic patients died, and as many as 114 cases of hepatitis were linked to Desai clinics. Desai died in prison in 2017.
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