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VOL. 124 | NO. 228 | Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eye Docs Try To Recoup Losses After Rogue’s Actions

By Tom Wilemon

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While Dr. Seth Yoser awaits sentencing on 35 counts of federal fraud charges, the physicians who turned him in are dealing with the damage to the Eye Specialty Group in East Memphis, where the ophthalmologist was a partner.

The sentencing should occur within the next month as part of a plea agreement.

Yoser in July pleaded guilty to fraud charges. The federal government in its indictment accused Yoser of diluting dosages of eye injection medicine, falsely billing Medicare for the amount of medicine used, then removing the medicine from the practice and selling it elsewhere.

In total, false billings of about $1.6 million were submitted to Medicare, prosecutors said.

Eye Specialty Group, a practice established in Memphis in 1968, was liable to the government for the billings.

The practice has paid out $569,580 in settlement costs with the federal government, and legal fees. It also has had to lay off employees.

The doctors are contending with feelings of betrayal, and their incomes have suffered, according to the victim-impact letters they sent to the U.S. District Court in Memphis.

“Dr. Yoser was, at the time of the discovery of the crimes, an integral part of the Eye Specialty Group,” wrote Dr. Subba R. Gollamudi, one of the partners in the practice. “He had the largest number of patients of any of the doctors in the group and was responsible for the biggest percentage of money billed and collected. To service his sizable practice, we hired many assistants and support personnel.

“But even beyond this tangible and mathematically accountable impact, the actions committed by Dr. Yoser ripped at the very fabric of our practice, our little community, all bound by the commitment of us all to the best possible care of our patients.The financial impact is probably the easiest to tally and discuss.”

In a separate civil case from the U.S. government’s criminal prosecution, Eye SpecialtyGroup is seeking to recover its costs and have punitive damages assessed against Yoser. According to that complaint, the practice suspended Yoser last year and turned him in to authorities for allegedly performing dry needle, or “fake,” eye injections on patients and running a “bootleg” drug distribution enterprise.

However, Yoser “specifically denies making fake eye injections on patients” and “further denies using substandard doses of medication or engaging in substandard practices,” according to answer the physician’s attorney filed.

Yoser, who has an active license to practice in the state, according to the Tennessee Department of Health online licensure verification, also denies having engaged in any professional misconduct.

In his response to the civil lawsuit, Yoser does admit that “he used the U.S. postal service and interstate wires illegally in order to receive cash payments for drugs improperly distributed by him.”

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