Doctors are put in one of the most powerful positions possible: They are in charge of telling us what is wrong with our body, and how to fix it. There is no other professional relationship that is more personal than the one between you and your doctor or physician.
This is why it is so devastating when a doctor abuses his or her position to make more money.
The case in Florida surrounding Dr. Salomon Melgen – an ophthalmologist who is being accused of not only medical malpractice, but also defrauding Medicare out of more than $100 million – is an excellent example of how bad medical malpractice can get.
Dr. Melgen was arrested nearly a year ago for Medicare fraud in the amount of $105 million. Using his trusted position as an eye doctor, he convinced many of his Medicare patients that they had a serious medical condition known as macular degeneration. While this condition shows no early symptoms, if not treated properly, it can lead to blurred vision or even blindness in the center of the eye. Once he had convinced his patients that they needed to get treated for this degenerative condition that they did not have, Dr. Melgen used only the most expensive procedures and equipment, and then sent the bill to Medicare.
As if the Medicare fraud were not bad enough, the treatments that Dr. Melgen gave his Medicare patients were not only unnecessary, but were also catastrophic to their eyesight: Multiple patients suffered severe infections – acute endophthalmitis – under Dr. Melgen’s care that resulted in the blurred vision or blindness that he had claimed he was treating. While some patients were only infected in one eye, others were infected in both after Dr. Melgen used the same syringe for both injections, instead of a new one for each eye.
Dr. Melgen often had his staff fill out paperwork to diagnose a patient with macular degeneration even before the patient had come to his office. This practice even led to the diagnosis begin given to a prosthetic eye- an impossible outcome.
Dr. Melgen was recently released on $18 million bond for his role in Medicare fraud and corruption charges that are surfacing as the investigation proceeds. While these charges are coming from the government, he is also facing medical malpractice lawsuits from the people whose eyesight he has ruined in his efforts to make as much money as possible.