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Thyroid Ultrasound, EKG For Weight Loss?

June 22, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Cardiac Imaging, Medical Ethics, Practice Management
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Would you expect your first visit to a weight-loss clinic to start with an ultrasound thyroid exam and an electrocardiogram?

According to the FBI, that’s what sometimes happened at five Chicago-area clinics (two of which appear to have closed suddenly) operated by Gautam Gupta, MD. The FBI thinks those tests were part of an insurance fraud scheme.

Dr. Gupta is, according to his clinics’ Web site, board certified in internal medicine. He’s sort of famous in the Chicago area for his ubiquitous radio ads. And he’s now wanted by the FBI, accused of having defrauded insurance companies and Medicaid of more than $25 million from 2001 through 2010.

The FBI actually raided the five clinics back in January 2010. FBI agents, along with investigators from the Illinois State Police, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Medicaid, have been interviewing Dr. Gupta’s employees and patients since then. Undercover agents have also posed as patients at the clinics.

The FBI finally served search warrants last Thursday. According to Rockford, Illinois, journalist/blogger Jim Hagerty, Gupta’s wife, among other sources, said on Saturday that they hadn’t seen him in several days. Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said, “We don’t know where he is.” The FBI suggested he may have left the country.

Giving the ultrasound and EKG tests were clinic employees who wore scrubs and appeared to be nurses and medical assistants. However, the FBI said, an investigation determined that no licensed nurses worked for the clinics.

The FBI said no initial exams were conducted to determine whether the ultrasounds and EKGs (for which public and private insurers were billed) were medically justified. Said the FBI complaint:

There would be no way for the physician or assistant to determine if this patient had a condition, or symptoms of a condition, which would indicate an ultrasound test of any kind was needed.

In 1999, Illinois authorities placed Dr. Gupta’s controlled-substance license on probation for a year because of improper record-keeping and dispensing. In 2009, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of insider trading connected with a stock purchase and sale. Gupta was ordered to repay profits, with interest, and pay more than $680,000 in penalties.

Hagerty reported that Dr. Gupta owns several commercial real estate properties, a few of which are in foreclosure.

The doctor has been placed on the FBI’s list of most-wanted fugitives. The bureau asks that anyone who knows his whereabouts call it at 312-421-6700.

Related seminar: Electrocardiography


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