Jury still out in case of fraudulent cardiologist

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Jury deliberations continued for the fourth day on Monday with no verdict in the federal healthcare fraud trial of Louisiana cardiologist, Mehmood M. Patel, MD, who is accused of billing the government and private insurers more than $2 million for unnecessary heart procedures from 2001 to 2004.

U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon is presiding over the trial.

In a trial that began Oct. 1, the charges against Patel involve more than 70 patients. Many of those patients also filed lawsuits against the doctor and hospitals where he performed treatments.

The criminal case comes after two Lafayette, La., hospitals have settled lawsuits over Patel’s work. Lafayette General Medical Center agreed this year to pay $1.8 million to settle about 100 malpractice cases filed by Patel patients. The hospital paid another $1.9 million to the Department of Justice to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit, alleging the hospital did not act on complaints about the doctor.

Additionally, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center paid $3.8 million in 2006 to settle a similar false claims lawsuit and another $7.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by hundreds of Patel’s former patients.

Patel also operated out of Acadiana Cardiology and the Acadiana Cardiovascular Center in Louisiana.