A well-known and successful hematologist and oncologist in the Michigan area, Dr. Farid Fata had a respectable reputation among locals as the man to go to if you suspected you might have cancer.
But for his patients, his treatment turned into a nightmare recently when it came to light that many of them were never sick in the first place, and were essentially forced to undergo debilitating cancer treatments for nothing.
Treated For Nothing
Fata plead guilty in court to misdiagnosing patients in order to cash in on their treatments – and for many years he was successful at it, building himself a million-dollar home and renting out several luxury offices for his practice. Many of his patients, however, were left with massive medical debt for procedures it turns out they didn’t need in the first place.
“I have a mountain of debt – medical debt – from this doctor, and a whole lot of co-pay that I don’t know how I’m going to pay for,” said one patient, Teddy Howard, whose treatments for a rare form of blood cancer that he never had eventually led to him developing liver disease(1).
“The Most Egregious Fraudster In US History”
With over 500 victims, Fata’s malpractice was widespread throughout Michigan. The U.S. Attorney’s office has called Fata “The most egregious fraudster in the history of this country, measured not only by the millions of dollars he stole but by the harm he inflicted on his victims.”(2)
Fata was sentenced to 45 years in prison(3), after pleading guilty last September to fraud. At 50, the 45 year sentence basically amounts to life in prison, which was the goal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“We weren’t interested in bargaining anything away,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. “His conduct was so egregious. It wasn’t a matter of stealing money but torturing patients by lying to them about having cancer… Chemotherapy is poison intended to kill cancer cells.”(4)
A Million Dollar Scheme
While many victims are left wondering why, for Fata, the motivation behind the malpractice scheme seems to have been money. According to the U.S. government, Fata submitted about 225 million in claims to Medicare over the course of six years – and half of those claims were for cancer treatments. Medicare paid out over 91 million dollars to Fata’s practice, while private insurers paid even more.
Reports have emerged of Fata browbeating patients who were financially struggling – sometimes telling them, “It’s your life or your money.”(5).
In addition to the financial toll, many of Fata’s victims reported an emotional toll as well. “It didn’t just keep me hostage, but my whole family,” one of Fata’s former patients said. “It’s over three years of my life that I will never get back.”
Fata remains jailed without bond.