The U.S. Justice Department has indicted former Temple University School of Medicine ophthalmology chairman Dr. Joseph Kubacki on 144 counts of healthcare fraud and making false statements in connection with charges that he submitted more than $3 million in claims for services given to patients that he did not personally see or evaluate.
Former Temple University ophthalmology chair indicted for fraud
Between July 2002 and October 2007, Kubacki allegedly directed staff to bring him charts of patients he didn't see and then made notes on the charts to falsely indicate he had seen them, according to the indictment (PDF).
Kubacki, a pediatric ophthalmologist, rarely saw adult patients as an attending physician, though he submitted claims stating that he had, according to the indictment. Kubacki also allegedly claimed that he saw patients on days when he was at a satellite office or traveling in other states and told medical residents to note falsely on emergency department patients' charts that he had been called in to consult on their care. In addition, according to the indictment, residents sought out other attending physicians to see their patients out of concerns that Kubacki was abusing alcohol.
In all, the indictment said Kubacki's false claims led Medicare and several private insurance companies and healthcare benefit plans to submit payments of more than $1.5 million.
"By falsely inflating the total amount of his billings, Kubacki attempted to make himself appear more productive than he actually was as a practicing physician in the ophthalmology department," according to the indictment. "In so doing, Kubacki was able to retain his prestigious position as chairperson of the ophthalmology department."
The indictment noted that Kubacki received an annual bonus that was based in part on the amount of revenue he generated by providing medical care at the hospital. If convicted, Kubacki could face "a substantial term of imprisonment" and a fine of $36 million and restitution, according to a Justice Department news release.
In an e-mail statement attributed to Raymond Betzner, assistant vice president of university communications, Temple noted that it had "severed its relationship" with Kubacki in November 2007 after investigating concerns about his conduct and reporting those findings to HHS.
"The University has since implemented additional measures to safeguard against such misconduct from recurring and is cooperating with the government in its investigation," according to the statement.
Kubacki, who now practices in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., could not be reached for comment.
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