Fraudulent doctor still practices as ex-partners pay the price

While one doctor who pleaded guilty to 35 counts of federal fraud is still practicing medicine, the doctors and managers who turned him in are paying for an internal investigation, writing off $300,000 in drugs and dealing with loss of income and a civil lawsuit.

Dr. Seth Yoser diluted dosages of eye injection medicine and falsely billed Medicare for the amount of medicine used while working for the Eye Specialty Group in Memphis, Tenn. He then took the medicine from the practice and sold it elsewhere for personal financial gain, reports the Memphis Daily News. The false billings alone amounted to about $1.6 million, say prosecutors.

The Group began to notice the medicine usage and launched an internal investigation in May 2008, eventually turning information over to federal authorities. The practice initially was held responsible for reimbursing Medicare all that was owed from fraud, but has since verbally agreed to a lesser amount. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration kept the practice's stolen medicine as evidence, then returned it after it had expired, accounting for the $300,000 lost.

To add insult to injury, the Tennessee Department of Health is still allowing Yoser to practice.

"In exchange for doing what we thought was best, we are now in a position where we are going to get fined for something and this doctor is still out practicing," says Thomas G. Brown, the practice administrator for Eye Specialty Group.

Yoser is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 18 after pleading guilty to distributing drugs to Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana in violation of federal laws.

"There is no state law, nor is there any rule within the boards, for health professionals that automatically prompts action against a licensed health professional for a criminal conviction," said Shelley Walker, the state agency's spokeswoman. 

To learn more:
- read this Memphis Daily News article