February 08, 2010
by Astrid Fiano, DOTmed News Writer
Las Vegas orthopedic spine surgeon Mark B. Kabins, M.D. has pleaded guilty to concealing a fraud. Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, announced that Kabins has admitted in a plea agreement that he had used co-defendant medical consultant Howard Awand to corruptly influence local lawyer and co-defendant Noel Gage not to sue Kabins, and concealed the crime. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Gage and Awand were charged with conspiracy and fraud in 2007; the trial against Gage and Awand should begin in 2010.
According to the publicly available Memorandum of the Plea Agreement, Kabins admits that in 2000, he assisted John Thalgott, M.D., his practice partner, in performing spine surgery on a patient. The patient later was rendered paraplegic from complications after the surgery. Kabins admitted he knew that medical experts could opine that his actions before and after surgery fell below the applicable standard of care and contributed to the patient’s permanent injury. To avoid being sued, Dr. Kabins approached Awand, who had referred patients to Kabins and also referred cases from Kabins and other doctors to personal injury attorneys. Kabins asked Awand to persuade Gage, the patient’s attorney, not to pursue litigation against Kabins and Thalgott. Kabins believed Awand attempted to influence Gage by referring personal injury cases to him. Although Gage later told Kabins he had an expert witness to testify the surgeons had fallen below the applicable standard of care, Gage did not sue either surgeon on behalf of the patient.
Kabins later drafted a ”Letter of Complaint” to help Gage initiate a suit against other health care providers involved in the patient’s treatment. Kabins intentionally omitted in the letter information about his meetings with Awand and Gage. Kabins will plead guilty to a count of misprision of a felony. A misprision of felony occurs when a person knows another committed a felony and does not notify appropriate authorities about the crime as soon as possible. Kabins will be sentenced to five years’ probation and pay $3.5 million in restitution to the patient-victim.