When a patient is told by their doctor that they have cancer, their whole lives can change. After extensive chemotherapy, they may be relieved to be told that they are cancer-free, thinking they beat the illness. However, what happens to the patient when they learn that the doctor intentionally misdiagnosed cancer in order to bill the insurance companies for unnecessary chemotherapy?
A judge approved a settlement in a malpractice claim against a Detroit-based oncologist and three Michigan hospitals for $8 million. The settlement will be divided among about 40 patients who were misdiagnosed and mistreated by Dr. Farid Fata. However, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press, these 43 patients represent only a handful of Fata's victims, which number more than 500. Some patients were unable to file lawsuits due to the statute of limitations, others chose not to file malpractice claims.
According to the judge, the patients will never receive enough to compensate them for what they went through. Attorneys for some of the patients said Fata intentionally carried low malpractice insurance limits per claim, leaving patients without any way to receive fair compensation from Fata. According to the attorney, under Michigan law doctors are not required to carry malpractice insurance and those who do only carry minimal coverage.
Michigan puts a limit on medical malpractice awards. However, some patients are getting restitution from federal funds and Fata's liquidated assets. Patients can be refunded for their out-of-pocket expenses, funeral expenses, and mental health treatment. However, these funds will not reimburse victims for their pain and suffering or lost wages.
A large portion of the total funds will be going to the whistleblower who alerted authorities to Fata's unlawful and unethical practices. The whistleblower notified authorities that Fata was prescribing unnecessary medical procedures for patients who did not have cancer, overmedicating others, and undertreating patients who did have cancer in a scheme to bill Medicare and insurers out of more than $30 million dollars.
The true extent of the damage caused by Fata may never be known. Over the years, more than 17,000 patients went to one of Fata's seven clinics in the Detroit area, although not all were seen by Fata. These patients may have trouble ever trusting another doctor again after such profound mistreatment. These patients may avoid going to oncologists, addressing a cancer diagnosis, or undergoing chemotherapy after having done so unnecessarily already.
Fata is serving a 45-year federal prison sentence for intentionally misdiagnosing patients. Fata pleaded guilty to fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. At his hearing, he asked for mercy. “I stand before you ashamed of my actions,” said Fata. However, many of his patients were unswayed. They called Fata “a monster,” describing how family members suffered during unnecessary toxic drug treatments.
If you have been injured as the result of medical misdiagnosis or mistreatment , the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of bringing a medical malpractice claim on your behalf. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting your family compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.