Michigan physician convicted in $100M healthcare fraud case

A physician in Michigan was convicted Sept. 22 in a more than $100 million healthcare fraud and money laundering scheme, and he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, according to the Justice Department

Francisco Patino, MD, was convicted of healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and pay and receive healthcare kickbacks. 

Prosecutors alleged Dr. Patino, who operated several pain clinics and laboratories in Michigan, got patients to come to his clinic by offering unnecessary prescriptions for addictive opioids. Prosecutors further alleged Dr. Patino forced patients to get unnecessary back injections in exchange for opioid prescriptions. From January 2012 through January 2017, Dr. Patino billed Medicare for more facet joint and nerve block injections than any other provider in the country. 

Dr. Patino also received illegal kickbacks from a diagnostic lab in exchange for sending patients' samples to the lab, according to the Justice Department. 

Prosecutors said Dr. Patino spent money from the various schemes to promote his specialized diet program and lifestyle and wellness book. He also paid Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters to promote the Patino Diet. 

Dr. Patino's sentencing is slated for Jan. 20, 2022. A federal judge will consider sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors to determine Dr. Patino's sentence, which could be a maximum of life in prison, according to the Justice Department.

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