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Fraud worth millions of Euros with forged medical directions, surgeons sued for bribery from international companies

08 August 2011 / 15:08:39  GRReporter
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What is the connection between 25 medical doctors, three diagnostic centres, tens of thousands of forged directions for laboratory tests – the family relations between officials of the Health Insurance Fund of public employees and employees of the diagnostic centres.
 
Another scandal in healthcare again brings to the surface an "industry" for issuing forged directions for tests that has been flawlessly operating in Piraeus for years and cost the state more than four million euros. The case is further evidence that the lack of checks and inspections has allowed those involved in the healthcare system to take advantage and seize illegal profits.

According to a report by the inspectorate of services in health and social care, the inspection of 25 cardiologists, radiologists and microbiologists who have contracts with the three diagnostic centres and the health insurance fund for civil servants have revealed 618 payment orders amounting to over eight million euros.

Of these, 376 orders worth five million were checked. It was not possible to check the rest that at least 11 doctors have issued because they were stolen from the offices of the Health Insurance Fund in Piraeus. The results of the inspection show that over 97% of the directions are forged and the most common method of fraud was writing a non-existent or wrong number of the insured person.

The total amount for which the Supervisory Board will take legal action against the doctors involved is estimated at over 4 million. Typical is the case of a radiologist who will be called to return a total of € 378,500 to the Fund. Within three years, only six out of 4169 directions issued by him were real. The directions issued by a fellow radiologist worth 21.613 proved 100% forged and he too should restore them.

As often happens in such "plots", there are the family relations again. The owner of one of the diagnostic centres involved is the husband of the head of the regional office of the Health Insurance Fund of civil servants in Piraeus in the period when the scandal has broke out the most. The daughter of an administrative employee of that department even worked in the administration of a diagnostic centre, which is also implicated in the fraud.

According to inspectors, the exact separation of the responsibilities will take quite some time. As stated in the report, "The inspection of three of the many diagnostic centres in only one region was exhausting and three inspections were necessary within a period of two years and a half."
 
The Ministry of Health informed that on 22 August it will announce a competition for the introduction of a system for issuing electronic prescriptions, which will be installed in health funds, public hospitals and health centres. The Ministry aims thereby to limit the overuse of medications and medical services. Since September last year, the Health Insurance Fund of civil servants has introduced a system for electronic registration and implementation of directions for laboratory testing, resulting in a serious drop in the average cost of testing of each insured person from € 131.44 to € 75.40. The control is relatively direct, since at the end of each month the system provides data containing the number of prescriptions divided by doctors, specialty, location and other indicators.

Meanwhile, the case of bribes large multinational companies for medical equipment have given to surgeons in Greek public hospitals took legal action but in a very wrong way. The District Court in Athens began to hear the case against one of the 21 orthopedists indicted for receiving bribes from Depuy - the company delivering medical supplies. From the outset, however, judges faced a wrong investigation. In order not to be forced to send this important case of corruption to the archives, they postponed the case and requested additional evidence that should have been collected during the preliminary investigation. According to the indictment, the accused has received from Depuy 20% of the value of the supplies he used for 15 surgeries in the period from May 10, 2006 to July 7, 2008. In particular, he received the amount of € 1,267 and the total value of the supplies was € 6,338.

According to the documentation of foreign judicial authorities, the Greek representative of the company has practiced to give "gifts" until 2004, when the headquarters of the company became suspicious that their agent in Athens put the money for the bribes to doctors in its own pocket. The first violation of the defendant orthopedist stated in the indictment of the Greek Court is a surgery made on May 31, 2006 because the hospital where the surgeon works has assured the prosecutor that Depuy supplies were used for it. However, there is no documentation in support of this statement of the Director of the hospital and no witnesses or surgical patients were questioned.

In the next letter to the Court, the same hospital director admits that Depuy supplies were used until 2004 and that the same "agent" has supplied Atikon hospital with materials from other companies. Depuy materials used were "common surgical instruments" rather than disposables such as sutures, blades and gloves.

The defenders of the defendant orthopedist proved that he did not participate in two of the 15 operations, because the first was held in the days before Easter and the other was not held at all.

Tags: SocietyDoctorsHealth Insurance FundForged directionsLaboratory testsFraudBribesImplantsMultinational cmpaniesSurgeon
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