Doctor Intentionally Diagnosed Healthy People with Cancer to Make Money
By Amanda Thomason
November 17, 2017 at 7:00am
Most of us know someone or have had someone close to us who has suffered from cancer. It’s a terrible disease and no joking matter.
While treatments are advancing and we know more about the disease than we ever have before, we still put a lot of our faith in doctors. Who else is more capable of caring for us in our most vulnerable times of need?
That’s part of why there was so much outrage when one doctor’s lies were uncovered. People had trusted him unquestioningly with their lives and cases, and he had used them.
Over 550 of them, actually. Dr. Farid Fata, who up until 2013 was a trusted authority in the world of cancer treatment, was arrested by the FBI.
In 2015, he received his sentence: 45 years in federal prison for conspiracy, money laundering, and fraud. At 50, that doesn’t give him much hope of making it out again, but many are unsatisfied with what seems like a slap on the wrist compared to his crimes.
People trusted Dr. Fata with their cases. But one woman said that even though everyone she knew trusted him, she found him unlikable from the moment she met him.
Monica Flagg, an otherwise healthy middle-aged woman, was told in 2012 that she had a cancer that attacked certain cells in her bone marrow. Not to worry, Dr. Fata told her: They had caught it early.
Of course, that meant that Flagg would have to be on a maintenance form of chemotherapy, poisoning her cells and weakening her otherwise healthy body. That’s usually worth it, though, if it’s a shot at beating the otherwise debilitating illness.
The only problem was that Flagg didn’t have cancer, and she never would’ve known it if it hadn’t been for a providential broken leg. At the time, she probably didn’t think a broken leg was a good thing, but it put her in the care of a doctor who noticed something wasn’t lining up: “He read my chart, looked at me very strangely, I’ll never forget the look that he had when he looked at me.
“He came back the following day and said to me, ‘I want you to know, I work for Dr. Fata. You’re 51, you’re extremely active, you’re a professional, you don’t have cancer and you need to not ever go back to Dr. Fata,” said Flagg.
She recognized, though, that she was extremely fortunate to have gotten away so early. She said, sadly, “I did one chemo treatment. The others did so many that they’re practically dead anyway.”
These crimes eventually came to light thanks to the vigilance of George Karadsheh, an office manager who grew concerned about the staff turnover. When he pressed one doctor who had decided to leave, he revealed that Dr. Fata was committing some heinous deeds.
Not only was he misdiagnosing types of cancer to require more expensive forms of treatment, he was pulling people out of hospice and putting them back on chemotherapy until they passed. No wonder people aren’t satisfied with 45 years in prison: this man not only ruined lives, he ruined what last moments people had on Earth.
This news was shocking to everyone. Dr. Fata had been a well-respected doctor, and had gone through extensive training and founded the largest private cancer practice in Michigan.
He understood enough to know what he’d done had been wrong — or at least to understand why others found it so appalling. “I misused my talents, yes,” he admitted to the court, “and permitted this sin to enter me because of power and greed.”
In 2016, the fraudulent doctor was told he must pay 43 claimants a total of $8 million. Though it’s a start, Donna McKenzie, who represented nearly half the claimants, asserted that “No amount of money can compensate any of these individuals for what they endured at the hands of Fata.”
While this was a horrifying discovery, it was one that needed to be broadcast. This doctor did some horrible things, but thanks to the awareness of a few crucial people, he won’t hurt anyone anymore.
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