Physician Practice Roundup—Administrator accused of embezzling $3M from medical practice; USC under fire for handling of misconduct charges against doctor

Practice administrator embezzled more than $3M over 14 years

A practice administrator was arrested Tuesday on charges alleging he embezzled more than $3 million from a New York medical practice where he worked. Peter Singh, 43, of Selden, New York, allegedly embezzled the money from Pediatrics Healthcare of Long Island’s Woodmere office between 2004 and 2018.

After having issues with its business account, Pediatrics Healthcare hired a certified public accountant to review its financial records and discovered the fraudulent activities.

Singh had access to bank accounts and payroll, and arranged over those years for a direct deposit of about $83,500 from the practice’s business account into his own bank account, police detectives said. He also gave himself pay totaling $1.1 million and allegedly added his wife and step-daughter to the payroll for over $1.8 million with the funds going directly to himself. Finally, he set up a false company collecting almost $30,000.

Singh is charged with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheming to defraud and eight counts of falsifying business records. L.I. Herald article

USC under fire for allowing a doctor to continue to treat students despite misconduct accusations

The University of Southern California is in the spotlight again for failure to take action against a doctor accused of misconduct.

A gynecologist who treated students at a college health center was allowed to continue practicing despite accusations of inappropriate behavior during exams, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times. On Tuesday, as the newspaper published a report about its investigation, USC President C.L. Max Nikias wrote a letter (PDF) sent to students and staff saying the university should have filed a complaint to the California Medical Board, making it aware of behavior by the gynecologist, George Tyndall, M.D., when the doctor agreed to retire under a separation agreement from the school.

Last year, the USC campus was rocked by scandal when the former dean of the medical school was forced to resign over reports of excessive drinking and illegal drug use. Los Angeles Times report

Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to victims of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar

Michigan State University, where former doctor Larry Nassar worked for two decades, has agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 victims of Nassar’s sexual abuse. It is believed to be the largest settlement by a college or university in U.S. history.

Nassar, the former doctor of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on sex abuse charges. Michigan State employed the sports-medicine doctor and will pay $425 million to the victims and will set aside an additional $75 million in a trust to settle any future claims of sexual abuse by Nassar. The settlement does not address claims brought by athletes against USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee and others. Wall Street Journal report

How to put a value on the doctor-patient relationship

What’s the value of a primary care doctor-patient relationship in terms of the patient’s overall well-being or medical costs? David Meltzer, M.D., an economist and a primary care physician at the University of Chicago, is undertaking research to quantify that relationship in a randomized clinical trial.

The doctor plans to present preliminary results of his research at the end of June at the annual research meeting of Academy Health. His research suggests strengthening the relationship between doctors and patients can significantly reduce hospitalizations and expenses and improve mental health. The New York Times Magazine article

Financial barriers prevent patients from accessing their health records

Patients still face many challenges in accessing their health information, a federal watchdog has found.

According to a new audit (PDF) by the Government Accountability Office, many patients struggle to get their health records due to what they say are high fees, which can vary widely by state and method of delivery. For example, Rhode Island has a $100 pricing cap for electronically stored medical records, while Kentucky will provide a record without charge.

The GAO noted that the high costs can cause some patients to cancel their requests and that many don't know that they have a right to challenge providers who deny them their records. Fierce Healthcare article