Truth in Advertising

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The American Medical Association’s (AMA) Truth in Advertising Campaign is designed to ensure that healthcare providers accurately state their level of training, education and licensing. This helps patients to discern if their medical providers are who they say they are. A neurologist from Fairhope, Alabama claimed he was a “World Leading Physician” on his clinic’s website. (As you might guess, he was not who he claimed to be, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading about him.) The fraudster in today’s article carried out a massive healthcare fraud scheme that sacrificed the health of his patients for greed. Read on to find out what he did.

The former neurologist operated a private clinic in Daphne, Alabama where he provided services related to neurology and pain management, including spinal injections. For approximately 17 years, he masterminded a health insurance scam where he persuaded patients to visit his clinic where he would perform medically unnecessary tests and procedures, then stick healthcare benefits programs with the bill. (His goal was to get rich off Medicare, Medicaid and other private insurers.)

The deceptive neurologist carried out his complicated scam by:

  • Administering unnecessary injections that were sometimes delivered in areas where patients were not experiencing pain. (Ouch!)
  • Informing patients that they needed diagnostic testing and spinal procedures before receiving prescriptions for controlled substances.
  • Using improper medical techniques and equipment during procedures.
  • Failing to provide informed consent about certain procedures.
  • Superimposing patients’ electronic signatures onto forms that indicated his patients were waiving their rights to “monitoring against medical advice.” (That’s a really scary thought.)
  • Failing to monitor his patients’ vital signs during and after procedures.
  • Maximizing billings but spending little time with patients.

(And, many more atrocious things. You’ll have to read the press release to learn more.)

Over the years, the deceptive doctor was warned verbally and in writing by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners. He was also placed on notice by several healthcare benefit programs multiple times. Despite the attempts to warn, the neurologist continued to carry out his scheme, making millions of dollars in the process. After a federal grand jury returned a 22-count superseding indictment against the doctor, he was arrested two days later at the Mobile Regional Airport on his way to the Middle East. (Oops. Not fast enough.)

After testimony from former patients, the 58-year-old former Fairhope, Alabama neurologist was sentenced to five years for committing healthcare fraud. The judge ordered him to pay restitution of $15,010,682 to six healthcare benefit programs, including Medicare and the Alabama Medicaid Agency. (Multiple real estate properties were sold to help generate the funds he is required to pay his victims.) The doctor must also serve one year of supervised release and pay a $200 special assessment.

During sentencing, the former doctor told the judge that his American dream had come to a complete end, along with his career as a doctor. (No, duh. I’m willing to bet that due to his narcissist tendencies, he didn’t even consider the lost dreams of the patients he victimized.)

Let this be a warning to thoroughly research any medical professional before receiving any type of treatment. Check out their credentials and get personal referrals. (That will help keep everyone honest.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a Department of Justice press release entitled, “Former Pain Management Doctor Receives 5 Years in Health Care Fraud Case, Ordered to Pay More Than 15 Million Dollars in Restitution,” released on June 8, 2018.

United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announces today that Chief United States District Judge Kristi K. DuBose sentenced Rassan M. Tarabein, 58, a former neurologist residing in Fairhope, Alabama, to 60 months imprisonment in a health care fraud case.  The judge ordered that Tarabein pay restitution totaling $15,010,682 to six different health care benefit programs, including Medicare and the Alabama Medicaid Agency.  The judge also ordered Tarabein to undergo one year of supervised release after finishing his term of imprisonment, and pay a $200 mandatory special assessment.

Tarabein previously operated the Eastern Shore Neurology and Pain Center, a private clinic in Daphne, Alabama where he offered services relating to neurology and pain management, such as spinal injections.  He had advertised himself as a “World Leading Physician” on his clinic’s website.

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Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.