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‘The Suffering Is Staggering.’ Victims Could Get $4.1 Million After Needless Cancer Treatments via TIME

(DETROIT) — An expert is recommending approval of $4.1 million in claims, including $2rodwin million in funeral costs, filed by victims of a Detroit-area doctor who committed fraud by putting hundreds of patients through needless cancer treatments.

Randi Roth gave an update Tuesday to a judge who is overseeing the case of Dr. Farid Fata. She said 81 percent of 741 claims are fully or partly eligible for restitution.

Fata is serving a 45-year prison sentence for fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. He admitted putting patients through grueling chemotherapy — even when they didn’t have cancer.

Fata’s victims can seek reimbursement for funeral costs, remedial health care and mental health treatment. Out-of-pocket costs paid to the doctor and his clinics are also eligible for repayment.

Pain and suffering and lost wages, however, aren’t covered.

“The suffering is staggering,” said Roth, an attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota, who specializes in deciding claims in large-scale litigation. “All of us want to help as much as possible but the law is strict.”

Final approval in the months ahead rests with U.S. District Judge Paul Borman. The restitution process includes a way for patients or their family to appeal if Roth determined a claim wasn’t eligible.

“This is a huge situation with tragic consequences. I’m going to be on top of it,” Borman said.

The judge said patients and families are first in line for restitution, followed by insurance companies and the federal government’s Medicare program.

Outside court, Teddy Howard, 57, of suburban Detroit said he’s frustrated. He said his claim has been rejected because his doctors won’t certify that some of his subsequent health care was related to the harm caused by repeated doses of chemotherapy ordered by Fata.

Howard said he had a liver transplant and has also lost eight teeth.

“I didn’t think I’d be crawling around, begging. This is crazy,” he said.

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(DETROIT) — An expert is recommending approval of $4.1 million in claims, including $2 million in funeral costs, filed by victims of a Detroit-area doctor who committed fraud by putting hundreds of patients through needless cancer treatments. Randi Roth gave an update Tuesday to a judge who is overseeing the case of Dr. Farid Fata.…

via ‘The Suffering Is Staggering.’ Victims Could Get $4.1 Million After Needless Cancer Treatments — TIME

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Patient Hospital Rights via WTTV

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Questions, accusations, and malpractice claims all surround a neurosurgeon who practiced in central Indiana for decades.

According to patients, Dr. John T. Cummings abruptly left Community Health Network two years ago with no explanation.

Some patients just want to know what happened to their neurosurgeon, but others contacted CBS4 Problem Solvers with their concerns, so we started investigating.

Former patient Lisa Bryant stepped forward first, saying she wants to know the truth and she filed a medical malpractice claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance against Cummings and Community Health Network.

“We had a connection. … I thought he was a very nice man,” Bryant said.

Bryant first saw Cummings for leg and back pain in 2013. She said pretty quickly, he told her surgery was her best option.

“I felt comfortable,” Bryant said.

Coming out of that surgery, though, Bryant said her condition worsened and she underwent more surgeries, enduring more pain that still continues to this day.

“It’s bad. Some days I wake up, three or four o’clock in the morning, I cry. It hurts,” Bryant said.

It’s that pain, and the questions Bryant said still linger, that caused her to reach out. Bryant said in the midst of her treatment, Cummings left Community Health with no explanation.

“I was really thinking this is all normal, and it’s not,” Bryant said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers found that Bryant is not the only patient with questions, and in some cases, accusations.

The Indiana Department of Insurance posts medical malpractice claims on a public database online. In the last four years, 15 patients have filed claims against Cummings. Two of those cases have since been dismissed.

Randy Stohler filed one of the now-dismissed cases. His sister, Teresa Knight, said her family couldn’t see a path forward with the claim after Stohler died from a heart attack earlier this year.

“It is hard, we do talk about him a lot, what if? He has a daughter and he’s got two very young granddaughters,” Knight said.

Knight said she was with her brother for a spinal surgery in June of 2015, and a year later, when he decided to take action.

“We were sitting at the house one day and kind of talking. He says, ‘You know Teresa … I think I need to see an attorney,’” Knight said.

Stohler’s family voluntarily dismissed his claim after his death, but 13 cases against Cummings remain active.

Those cases vary widely in how much detail patients reveal in their complaints, but many patients describe undergoing complicated spinal surgeries. More than one accuse Cummings of performing “unnecessary” surgery or going “directly to surgery” instead of seeking “conservative treatment.”

Other patients describe “severe pain” and the need for “additional” procedures or corrective surgeries.

It’s important to note that medical malpractice claims are common and neurosurgery is a field where the risk of surgery can be incredibly high. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine ranked neurosurgery as the number one field for lawsuits, with nearly 20 percent of all neurosurgeons facing a malpractice claim each year.

CBS4 Problem Solvers wanted to get an explanation, but Community Health Network declined our request for an interview and refused to answer multiple questions.

A spokesperson for the hospital system would only confirm Cummings’ dates of employment, which started in 2010 and ended on December 10, 2015.

In Indiana, medical malpractice claims must be reviewed by a panel of three doctors before a lawsuit can proceed in court. Most cases take years to resolve.

Only one panel has convened in a case against Cummings since 2014. This August, that panel came to the “unanimous opinion” that he and Community Health Network “failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care.” The case involved a woman who said Cummings “improperly placed hardware” in her spine during a surgery.

Additionally, an earlier 2011 case alleging that a piece of equipment “entered the spinal canal” during surgery, causing the patient to be permanently disabled, was allowed to go forward based on a 2014 panel decision.

That case, however, was instead settled for $1,000,000, a month after Cummings left the hospital.

Michael Ellington had no idea he would be one of Cummings’ last patients. After surgery in December 2015, Ellington said he tried to get in touch with the doctor about his pain.

Ellington later received a letter, telling patients “effective immediately, Dr. John T. Cummings will no longer see patients at Community.”

Ellington said another doctor diagnosed him with a spinal fluid leak and he underwent a second surgery.

“I haven’t been the same since,” Ellington said.

It’s unclear whether the claims, and their timing, are linked to Cummings’ parting from Community. The surgeon faced more than a dozen malpractice claims prior to 2014 and a majority were dismissed, or medical panels found no malpractice.

There are also patients who say they received great care from the surgeon. One told Community Health Network on Facebook, “You lost a top notch surgeon … (who) saved my back and kept me walking.”

Another patient even created a Facebook group dedicated to search for Cummings after his departure, saying “he remains undoubtedly one of the best neurosurgeons in Indianapolis.”

Cummings was also featured as a “Top Doctor” in Indianapolis Monthly magazine in 2013 and 2015.

Hospital tax records show that in 2011, Cummings was one of Community Health’s highest paid physicians, making more than $1.2 million.

What is clear, is that many patients want to know what happened to Cummings; but in the case of Bryant, Ellington, and Knight, it’s because they say they’re concerned.

“We have no idea, but certainly there is a problem,” Knight said.

“Definitely I believe that I’m not the only one,” Bryant said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers tried to find Cummings to get his side of the story. He appeared to still be living in the area, and a woman who identified herself as his wife said via Facebook that he had not been practicing because of what she called an “exclusive clause” with Community Health Network, which ends next month, exactly two years after his last day.

Lawyers for Cummings did not return repeated requests for comment.

Even though a medical panel found Cummings responsible in one case in August, they also recommended his name not be forwarded to the Medical Licensing Board for fitness to practice.

The board renewed Cummings’ Indiana medical license a few weeks ago.

CBS4 Problem Solvers wants to hear from patients, whether you’ve had a good or bad experience. You can contact us at ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com or (317) 677-1544.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Questions, accusations, and malpractice claims all surround a neurosurgeon who practiced in central Indiana for decades. According to patients, Dr. John T. Cummings abruptly left Community Health Network two years ago with no explanation. Some patients just want to know what happened to their neurosurgeon, but others contacted CBS4 Problem Solvers with…

via Patients search for neurosurgeon who abruptly left major hospital system — CBS 4 – Indianapolis News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | WTTV

New York Police Arrest Office Manager Who Allegedly Pretends To Be Dentist And Botched Procedures

1, April 17, 2015 by jonathanturleyDrFeatured Image -- 525

Patients in the Bronx have learned that the dentist who performed their procedures — including botched procedures — was actually not a doctor but an office manager. Valbona Yzeiraj, 45, worked as an office manager at Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold’s office and claimed that she was a trained professional from her native Albania. However, even if true, she is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. but performed procedures on patients, including a root canal that left a patient with an infection and another with “persistent pain” two years after the procedure.

We have previously discussed how criminal and tort charges apply in such cases of unauthorized practice of medicine or law (here). In torts, such individuals are subject to the standard of the profession, in this case the standard of what a reasonable dentist would have done in such a procedures. In criminal law, the standard is more straightforward. If you hold yourself out as a doctor or lawyer, you are committing a crime.

Schoengold fired Yzeiraj and she that he learned she was treating patients when he was out of the office. She is now charged with assault in the second and third degrees, unauthorized practice, attempted grand larceny and reckless endangerment.

What will be interesting is whether these patients will sue Schoengold for negligence in the monitoring of his office and employees.

36 Responses

  1. If she is being charged with assault in the third degree, shouldn’t it be assault assault assault?

  2. What the hell is assault assault?

  3. None of the patients complained to the actual dentist of the pain and infections? None of the patients asked the actual dentist for a prescription for antibiotics or pain meds? This should have given him a clue as to what was going on. How many procedures, over how long of a period of time? Also, what’s with the charge of attempted grand larceny? I’m assuming that she was pocketing the money from these procedures, so shouldn’t that just be a charge of grand larceny, not attempted grand larceny? Maybe she was giving the patients time to pay and hadn’t yet received enough payments justifying a grand larceny charge, which might explain the attempted grand larceny. While the authorities are at it, they should throw in an attempted dye job; this one’s a disaster and criminal.🙂

    Never have someone named Valbona perform a root canal. It’s never a good idea. 🙂

  4. This was obviously a case of the office manager in collusion with the patients. Unless, of course, the dentist was in on it. If you go to a dentist and have work done, even if the person working on you is masquerading as a dentist, you need to be registered in the office books. There has to be a record of funds transferred. There has to be some sort of formality. Unless the dentist was in on it, the work was done off the books.

    For the office manager to get away with this, without her boss’s knowledge, the patient was most likely offered a ‘deal’. Caveat Emptor.

    During my career as an Architect I often ran across ‘bottom feeders’. These people wanted to pay ‘next to nothing’ for services and then go on into construction ‘stepping on’ all the contractors. First they got the plans approved and then had them bid. Then they took out a building loan. Then they took the lowest bid-sometimes unreasonably low. Then into the work after the loan had started and interest was ticking along, they got into a disagreement with the general contractor as he tried to make a square peg fit a round hole. The job stopped. The contractor sued. The interest kept ticking along. And everyone got screwed.

    ‘Bottom feeding’ is a crapshoot and all those involved get what they deserve. If one does get away with a Mercedes for the price of a Corolla then good for them. But if not, take your licks and use a real dentist the next time.

    The woman should be charged with fraud but probably not for assault and civil penalties.

  5. Of course the real dentist will be sued. He has insurance! Geez.

  6. isaac

    You make the giant leap that the patients were somehow aware that the person, dressed, presumably, in scrubs, was not a dentist herself. As a patient, I would have no idea that the person, standing over me, was not qualified to perform the procedures. When I go to have my teeth cleaned, for example, I just assume that the dental hygienist, or the person claiming to be that, is actually a dental hygienist and not a waitress from the restaurant down the street. I do not ask to see her diplomas or certificates as she lowers my chair and begins to clean my teeth. Do you? I am going to assume that no reasonable and sane person is going to allow an unqualified and unlicensed individual to perform invasive and dangerous oral surgery. Please, no examples of oddballs knowingly allowing medical work to be performed by unlicensed criminals, since those would be the exception, not the rule. Assuming that these patients had knowledge that she wasn’t, in fact, a dentist is not indicated by the few facts presented here. If the patients were paying, in cash, this woman could have given them a receipt and sent them on their way. Many people do not have dental insurance, so paying out of pocket is not unusual and sidesteps the involvement of any insurance companies. These patients weren’t going to some back alley to have dental work performed; they were going, to what they assumed, was a legitimate dental practice. Blaming the victims here, as you have, is surprising, even coming from you

  7. bam bam – I am one of those who checks out the diplomas on the walls.

  8. going to, what they assumed, was a dental. . .

  9. Paul C

    Since the diplomas have no photos, do you know, with any degree of certainty, to whom they were actually issued? They may be hanging on the walls of the dental office, but I have no idea to whom they belong. It’s not like seeing a diploma and bar license on the wall behind your attorney: you know his name and his identity. I couldn’t tell you the names of the multiple people in these dental offices. Most of us just rely on blind trust that the people in these offices are what they say they are. We do that, I suppose, based upon our trust in the dentist, figuring that he/she would not allow an unqualified person to perform any unauthorized tasks. The same applies to hospital settings. Do you know, with any degree of certainty, that the people marching in and out of your hospital room have the proper credentials? Of course not. You depend upon the hospital and its integrity to hire properly trained employees.

  10. bam bam – you are absolutely correct. I had a friend who had a beautiful ASU Ph.D. diploma on his wall. It was fake. 🙂

  11. Bam bam

    First, read more carefully. The conditions of the dentist’s involvement or negligence brings the dentist into the picture. If the dentist is unaware of the scam and one goes to a dentist’s office and pays in cash, gets no receipt/ie no office record, has the person who greets them do the work, and cannot tell the difference between an office manager and a dentist/doctor, then maybe, just maybe, the patient’s radar was turned off at the invitation to ‘save some money’.

    If the dentist is out of the picture, the office manager had to set up a scenario to keep this stuff under the radar. Perhaps it all went on with the total innocence of the patients, perhaps not. There is not enough info here to ascertain.

    I have never been in a dentist’s office, even a clinic, where I could not tell the difference between the ‘dentist’ and the rest of the people who work there.

    My observation brought in human nature. Regardless of assumptions, good old human nature is often involved. Of course the office manager will take the hit unless the dentist can be proven involved. The insurance company is typically not liable when fraud and/or negligence is involved. That is to say, if it can be proven that you burned down your own house, you probably won’t get any money to rebuild from the insurance company.

  12. isaac

    The first line of your comment was that obviously the patients and this woman were in collusion. Do you recall writing that? Trust me, I have no trouble reading or comprehending. There is no obvious collusion here, given the facts that were presented. I don’t immediately assume that victims of a crime and the perpetrator of the harm are in collusion. My first instinct would be to view them as victims, especially seeing the charges that are leveled against the woman. Again, more facts will surface. Blaming the victims, by stating that they should take their licks and go to a real dentist next time, as you stated (do you remember?) is unfair. These people did go to a real dentist, and this woman, working there, held herself out to be a real dentist. It is also relevant, in my opinion, to note that this occurred in the Bronx. It’s significant because this location would, probably, attract local residents, many of whom are poor and/or immigrants. They may not notice the same red flags that others, who are far more educated or sophisticated, would in this situation. I don’t believe that members of that community would think about asking to see credentials first. Not a slam, just a thought. I could also see them paying in cash as normal behavior, so the transactions would again not trigger a red flag to the patients. You do know that cash receipt books may be purchased from your local office supply, don’t you? Stating that they basically got was coming to them is, as I stated, blaming the victims. For shame.

  13. issac

    By the way, if the dentist, himself, had personal knowledge, he should be charged, as well. He still has liability, in my opinion, even if he didn’t know, since the work was performed in his office. It’s the difference between criminal and civil liability.

  14. Hmmm. Well, at least she deserves an Irish Poem for being nervy!

    Valbona Dentata???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    To all of the fears in our crania,
    Add the “unlicensed quack from Albania”
    ‘Cause this Dental Plan- – –
    Shades of Marathon Man!
    Is enough to induce a new mania!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    Note 1: Marathon Man was a movie about oral hygiene and stuff:

    Note 2: The title is a word play on vagina dentata, a well described phobia, with some basis in reality. As wiki notes:

    Vagina dentata (Latin for toothed vagina) describes a folk tale in which a woman’s vagina is said to contain teeth, with the associated implication that sexual intercourse might result in injury, emasculation or castration for the man involved.

    In her controversial best-seller Sexual Personae (1991), Camille Paglia wrote:

    The toothed vagina is no sexist hallucination: every penis is made less in every vagina, just as mankind, male and female, is devoured by mother nature.[13]

    In his book The Wimp Factor, Stephen J. Ducat expresses a similar view, that these myths express the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished.[14]

    In rare instances, teeth may be found in a vagina. Dermoid cysts are formed from the outer layers of embryonic skin cells. These cells are able to mature into teeth, bones or hair, and these cysts are able to form anywhere the skin is or where the skin folds inwards to become another organ, such as in the ear or the vagina. Dermoid cysts occur most commonly in the ovary. If it ruptures there, the teeth may migrate through the vagina.[1][15][16]

    (PS: I just bet that no other legal blog is having a discussion today about this fascinating topic!)

  15. Squeaky

    You are always so funny and clever!

  16. I have no opinion…I pretty much hate all dentists…except for the oral surgeons who helped put my head back together in an Army Evac hospital long ago.

  17. That is really funny Squeaky. I can’t imagine what kind of psycho would go in and beat on someone’s mouth but an oral sadist? Wat do you think Paul and Pogo? Oral Sadism anyone? 😉

  18. @bam bam and happypappies

    Thank you!!! I am glad you enjoyed it! Here is a really good link I discovered on the topic.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  19. Valbona may not have been as funny, but this is a great scene from the Carol Burnett show.

JONATHAN TURLEY

DrPatients in the Bronx have learned that the dentist who performed their procedures — including botched procedures — was actually not a doctor but an office manager. Valbona Yzeiraj, 45, worked as an office manager at Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold’s office and claimed that she was a trained professional from her native Albania. However, even if true, she is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. but performed procedures on patients, including a root canal that left a patient with an infection and another with “persistent pain” two years after the procedure.

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