Legal cases: Doc bribery cases up, malpractice verdicts down

Legal cases

An alarming number of doctors have been arrested on bribery charges over the past year, accused of taking kickbacks, according to a report on NJ.com.

Doctors are being prosecuted in federal and state courts and being sent to prison for their crimes, according to the report. For instance, Bret Ostrager, a New York family physician with a lucrative practice, was sent to prison for 37 months for taking more than $100,000 in kickbacks from a lab in exchange for sending patients’ blood tests.

His case was part of the largest physician bribery case federal prosecutors say they have ever tried, involving 27 doctors and the now defunct Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, the report said. Legal officials raised concerns about the unusually large scope of some of the cases and the widespread extent of the problem, according to NJ.com.

"The cases have gotten bigger and more complicated. There's a lot of money to be made and stolen in healthcare," U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, told the publication.

Doctors have been charged in financial crimes that range from taking bribes in exchange for patient referrals to billing Medicare and private insurance companies for services they did not provide.

In Pennsylvania, there’s another trend happening: the number of jury verdicts in medical malpractice lawsuits were at a 15-year low last year, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. That has legal and medical officials divided about the cause. It’s welcome news to the medical community which has seen rising malpractice insurance premiums. Lawyers, however say it’s harder to sue or win cases that go to a jury, leaving injured patients without recourse, the newspaper said.

- read the NJ.com article
- check out the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article