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Fraud versus medical ethics: You be the judge

Fraud complaints seem to track the economy. When times are tough, criminal behavior blooms like unwanted dandelions on a pristine lawn. When economic indicators are strong and everyone is employed and satisfied, criminal behavior will vanish. (If you believe that, I have some swamp land to sell you!)

However, until the authorities institute draconian penalties for crimes of dishonesty or theft, such crimes will remain a pesky fixture in all of our lives. What was once an aberrant act devoid of conscience has morphed into an everyday “so what?” occurrence.

Western society tolerates thieves. When caught we slap ‘em on the wrist and say, “Uh, uh. Don’t do that again” and let them go!

In some areas of the Middle East, stealing anything is likely to result in chopping off the thief’s right hand. A bank teller in Poughkeepsie who slips a $5 bill into her bra, in the remotest of circumstances (if she is caught), will lose her job or get a finger wagged in her face. In certain areas of the rigid Far East, that same $5 crime will receive the gift of a bullet delivered straight to her forehead from a loaded pistol.

And the thief’s family will be billed for the cost of the bullet.

Meanwhile, you do not live in an Afghani village or in remote areas of northern China. You live within a culture that proscribes to “the smartest and fastest bird gets the worm.” We reward intellect with the spoils of fraud.

This week I am turning the tables. This week we are playing “Ethics 101” on a medical fraud case, one that is very real. It’s my own experiment in measuring public tolerance for fraud. I am soliciting your feedback! Responses can be dropped at the PVT offices or emailed directly to Leslie@fightfraudamerica.com.

Case in point:

DS is a kindly M.D. He’s smart, he’s caring, he knows the system … and he has an inoperable cancerous lung tumor. Without bi-monthly chemo to stop the tumor growth, he’ll die. As long as he gets his treatment, he’s fine. There are no side effects; he is a “maintenance” patient who has followed the routine for ten years. Old age will kill him before the cancer will. The challenge is that the miracle drug vial is (1) very expensive and (2) tricky to administer.

Remember, DS is a medical doctor himself — so three weeks ago he was able to recognize when the RN botched the procedure and discarded 3/4 of the vial of medicine in the needle disposal unit rather than own up to her incompetence and chance of being fired.

Instead, she smiled broadly, said “all done” and left the room. DS retrieved the needle, photographed it, marched into the director’s office with the evidence, and ratted out Miss “so what if you die, I’ll still have my job.” The director opened a new vial, took the $3,000 loss in the shorts, and DS was out the door to enjoy another healthy two weeks of life.

Story over? Hardly. Last week DS went in for his bi-monthly appointment. A different RN injected him, correctly, however the “cover my incompetence at any cost” nurse was still very much employed.

She’s the sister of the owner — and there is only one single chemo center in this town that delivers this treatment program and many cancer patients depend upon their services. DS asks, “What do I do?”

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