The story of “The Fraud Doctor” just doesn’t seem to end.
A few years ago, you might have seen stories about Spyros Panos, a once-famous orthopedic surgeon who met his professional demise when he was charged with healthcare fraud in 2013… then proceeded to engage in further fraud that is still coming to light. Victims of his medical malpractice are now receiving money in what is being called the largest medical malpractice settlement in New York history.
How big is it? Reports say that 255 plaintiffs will receive $140 million. Individual plaintiffs will be able to claim between $15,500 to $3.8 million in compensation, depending on their specific situation.
That’s a lot of medical malpractice.
Just Who Is “The Fraud Doctor”?
In his heyday, Spyros Panos was a well-known orthopedic surgeon in the Poughkeepsie area. He would allegedly perform over 20 surgeries or see up to 90 patients in a single day. However, not everyone was satisfied with the work they received from Panos.
One victim claimed that Panos performed several surgeries on her Achilles tendon that left her unable to walk. Others claimed he performed unnecessary surgeries and faked others.
While he was allegedly botching and faking these surgeries, he was raking in the cash. How? By providing false information to health insurance providers in exchange for compensation and other forms of payment.
Reports showed that Panos received $7.5 million in compensation between the years of 2007 and 2011.
In 2013, Panos pled guilty to one count of healthcare fraud. He was sentenced to four and a half years behind bars and fined $250,000. In addition to the fines, Panos was sentenced to pay $5 million in restitution.
Panos was released from prison to a halfway house in 2016 and later transferred to home confinement.
After Panos was exposed, over 260 plaintiffs filed medical malpractice suits, asking Panos to repay the damage caused by botched and faked surgeries. Initial settlement estimates sat around $40 million, but in February 2019, that estimate proved to be exceedingly low in comparison to the $140 million that was ultimately awarded.
The settlement will help to compensate the hundreds of victims that were injured or racked up heavy medical bills due to the ex-surgeon’s malpractice. Unfortunately, it cannot bring back those who lost their lives. Constance Nenni is still grieving the loss of her mother, who died from a blood clot one day after receiving surgery from Panos.
The Story Doesn’t End with This Settlement
Above we mentioned that Panos continued to engage in fraud even after being caught, and that those crimes were still being uncovered.
While Panos stopped practicing as a surgeon in 2013 after his conviction, once he was released from prison, he began to pose as an expert physician and team up with doctors to review workers compensation claims. He gave his “expertise” on whether or not treatments should be covered by insurance.
During this time, he denied coverage to a staggering number of patients. These patients could request to have their claims looked at a second time, but throughout this process the bills just keep on coming.
Reports estimate that Panos used a fraudulent name to rack up over $860,000 in bills for medical treatments. Not every case should have been denied. Many patients should have received coverage for treatments, but had to foot the bill themselves.
For these acts, Panos was arrested in April 2018 and charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, healthcare fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He has pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bond. As per his sentence, Panos is not allowed to use any devices that connect to the internet and is confined to his home. A judge also ordered him to receive mental health treatment.
Denied Medical Coverage? Victim of Malpractice? Reach Out to a Skilled NY Injury Lawyer
Data has revealed that at least 2,500 people have been affected by the Fraud Doctor’s alleged actions. Some victims have been notified, but there has been no official announcement on whether all victims have been encouraged to appeal their claims.
If you were denied healthcare coverage and you believe that the ruling was in bad faith, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for a second opinion. Victims can file a bad faith claim or a medical malpractice claim with the help of an experienced New York personal injury lawyer.
The sad truth is that these types of cases happen every day. Don’t let a fraudster cause monetary or physical damage to you and your family. Take appropriate action to fight bad faith insurance and medical malpractice.