The U.S. Justice Department has joined a whistle-blower lawsuit against Louisiana cardiologist Mehmood Patel, who was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of placing stents in patients who didn't need them.
Patel, 64, has appealed the conviction. The government now is bringing civil allegations under the False Claims Act, intervening in a lawsuit filed by a cardiologist who had been an employee of Patel's Lafayette, La., practice in 2003. The whistle-blower, Christopher Mallavarapu, filed his complaint in March 2004 a few months after federal agents executed a search warrant at Patel's office.
According to a new version of the complaint filed by the U.S. attorney's office in Lafayette, reviews of medical records from catheterizations, angiograms and angioplasties at two local hospitals and his own catheterization lab from 2000 to 2003 indicated he billed Medicare for many procedures that were not medically necessary or fraudulently coded. The government alleges that statistical samples indicate that nearly 100% of the claims in two categories of procedures were false.
The hospitals, 217-bed Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center and 300-bed Lafayette General Medical Center, both in Lafayette, were named as defendants in the original lawsuit and previously reached settlements.