by Joanne Finnegan | Feb 5, 2020
Four Detroit-area physicians were found guilty by a federal jury Tuesday of healthcare fraud after they administered doses of unnecessary—and sometimes painful—back injections to patients in exchange for prescriptions of more than 6.6 million doses of medically unnecessary opioids.
The doctors required patients to get the injections in order to get the prescriptions for opioids, some of which were resold on the street by drug dealers, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Then they billed Medicare for the medically unnecessary injections in the more than $150 million healthcare fraud scheme.
The defendants were among some of the top prescribers of oxycodone in Michigan. In testimony, the practice was described as an assembly line where the doctors earned anywhere from $1,100 to $3,500 an hour for performing the same injections on nearly every patient.
The doctors worked at medical clinics in Michigan and Ohio operated under the name of the Tri-County Group, which was paid more for these facet joint injections than any other medical clinic in the U.S., the DOJ said.
Prosecutors said that the doctors offered prescriptions of 30-mg oxycodone pills to patients, a dosage suitable only for terminally ill cancer patients. Over 94% of the patients in the clinic were caught in the fraud scheme.