Doctors must fight for their innocence in fraud cases, say defense attorneys

Gavel and flag in courtroom
Not all doctors charged with healthcare fraud are guilty, but many choose not to fight, say two federal criminal defense attorneys. (Getty/AlexStar)

Pramela Ganji, M.D., was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted in a conspiracy to commit Medicare fraud at a home health care agency in Louisiana.

The 68-year-old doctor spent several months in a federal prison in Alabama before she learned an appellate court had reversed and vacated her conviction, wrote David Markus, J.D., and Mona Markus, J.D., the federal criminal defense attorneys who handled her appeal, in a KevinMD post.

But the attorneys say that Ganji is not alone in being wrongly convicted. In the past couple of years, they have defended physicians and healthcare professionals who faced charges from what they believe are overzealous federal prosecutors.

“The unjust prosecution of Dr. Ganji is not unique. Because the Medicare system is so open to fraud and because there is so little oversight, there have been many righteous prosecutions of abusers who don’t provide actual services, overbill and so on. But the government has cast its nets so wide that it is now prosecuting doctors for federal crimes when there is a simple disagreement on whether the services are medically necessary. This is wrong,” they write.

Prosecutors must realize that not every doctor who they disagree with regarding treatment is a criminal, they say. And it's vital that judges push back against unjust prosecutions and for doctors to fight for their innocence, they write. "The vast majority of doctors are good people trying to help their patients," the two lawyers write. "They should be given the benefit of the doubt."