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Fraud, malpractice cases against spine surgeon continue to grow

Many northern Illinois patients never think twice about a physician's competency. Patients are sometimes so comforted by a doctor's advanced knowledge and medical skills that they fail to consider whether a diagnosis, treatment, or medicine is right for them.

A physician practicing in a neighboring state to Illinois has been slapped with fresh criminal charges and 160 negligence claims for taking advantage of his position as a medical professional. Surgical errors are just the tip of the iceberg of charges against the spine specialist.

The latest indictment follows earlier federal allegations for fraudulent billing and private lawsuits over unneeded surgeries. According to the new charges, the doctor put his signature on painkiller prescriptions, but let others fill them out while he vacationed.

The defendant is accused of taking credit for surgeries he only briefly attended, as well as leaving a wire inside a patient, without informing the patient of the error. The indictment stated that the physician later talked this person into an additional surgery so that he could secretly remove the wire.

The doctor is licensed to practice medicine in two states, although he has been booted from all five hospitals where he once had surgery privileges. He also has a private practice and part ownership of a surgical clinic, where he performed what many patients said were unnecessary operations. One hospital where the doctor worked is the target of over 120 medical malpractice suits for hiding the spine surgeon's "incompetence."

The first criminal and civil trials are scheduled for January of next year. A conviction on just the fraud charges could result in a prison sentence of over a century long. The latest round of accusations said the doctor seriously injured patients who did not require surgeries, lied to patients and colleagues, and left X-rays unread.

Quality patient care is a standard that health care professionals and hospitals must meet. Medical malpractice is inexcusable and compensable for victims of negligence.

Source: wcpo.com, "Dr. Atiq Durrani: Mason spine surgeon faces new federal charges" Greg Noble, Oct. 17, 2013

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