A once-prominent Lafayette cardiologist now in prison on health care fraud charges has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle a related civil case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Dr. Mehmood M. Patel is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence for billing insurers for unnecessary treatments and falsifying medical records to support the payments.
A jury convicted him in 2008 on 51 counts of health care fraud after a two-month trial, and he reported to prison in 2012 after years of unsuccessful challenges to his conviction.
He was ordered to pay $562,500 in restitution and fines as part of the criminal case.
The $650,000 settlement announced Tuesday is in a related civil case brought against Patel and his cardiology clinics to recover damages under the federal False Claims Act.
“This is a significant recovery,” U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said in a written statement. “Health care providers should know they will be held accountable for the care that they provide and the claims they submit for care. We hope this settlement sends a message that those in the health care industry who overcharge federal programs and perform medically unnecessary treatments will be held accountable, both criminally and civilly.”
Two Lafayette hospitals where Patel did work have already paid out substantial settlements.
Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center agreed to a $3.8 million settlement in 2006, and Lafayette General Medical Center paid a $1.9 million settlement in 2008.
Patel was accused of falsifying medical records and medical test results to justify unnecessary heart procedures.
He billed Medicare and private insurance companies more than $3 million over a three-year period and was the top biller for cardiology services in Louisiana from 1999 to 2003, according to figures from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The case had its start when one of Patel’s former associates, Dr. Christopher Mallavarapu, filed a false claims lawsuit under a law that allows private citizens to pursue litigation in cases of government fraud and keep a portion of any recovered funds.
The Justice Department joined Mallavarapu in the false claims litigation.
Follow Richard Burgess on Twitter, @rbb100.