Consumer Health Digest #09-34

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 20, 2009

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Another NICO-related suit filed. Alireza Panahpour, D.D.S., Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D., Connealy's South Coast Medical Center for New Medicine, oral pathologist Jerry E. Bouquot, D.D.S., and the University of Texas are being sued for negligence in connection with the treatment of a woman who sought hormonal treatment at the center. The complaint states:

Panahpour and Bouquot are part of a small network of practitioners who are prone to diagnose and "treat" nonexistent jaw problems. The treatment can be very destructive. Quackwatch has additional information about this.

Remaining Omnibus decisions upheld. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has affirmed the Special Master's decisions that the families of Colten Snyder and Michelle Cedillo had presented no credible evidence that vaccination had caused him to develop autism. The decision is part of the Autism Omnibus Proceeding in which more than 5,000 families who claim that vaccines caused their children to become autistic are seeking compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). In February 2009, Special Masters ruled in these cases and one other selected to test how similar cases should be handled. The decisions completely debunked the alleged vaccine/autism connection and implied that the doctors who promote them are acting unethically. Autism-Watch has posted key findings and links to the hearing transcripts and decisions.

Australian cancer quack curbed. The Brisbane Supreme Court has ordered Jillian Newlands to pay a $12,000 fine and stop claiming that she is able to cure or benefit any person suffering from cancer. [Lawler P. Unregistered Australian health provider ordered to stop misleading cancer patients. Queensland Minister for Tourism and Fair Trading news release, April 23, 2009] Government action was spurred by an undercover TV investigation that exposed what she was doing.

Insurance fraud ring participants receive prison sentences. Mike Williams Tosca Martinez, Nhon Nguyen, Jacqueline Gonzalez, D.C., Christina Lapp, D.C., and another chiropractor have received prison sentences related to improper billing of insurance companies. At various times between 2002 and 2006, the defendants operated seven clinics in Southern Florida. To execute the scheme, Martinez and Nguyen arranged to solicit real victims of automobile accidents and individuals participating in "staged" accidents to visit the clinics. Fifteen insurance companies were billed for nonexistent and inflated personal injuries and made at least $3,428,851 in payments.

The participants were not equally involved. Martinez, who organized the ring, pled guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering, and fraudulent use of another person's social security number, was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Nguyen pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering, and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The chiropractors each pled guilty to obstruction of a criminal investigation of health care offenses and making false statements to agents. Gonzalez was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Lapp received a 1-year sentence. The third chiropractor, who worked at two of the clinics for about eleven months, received a 6-month sentence. In a telephone conversation, she told Dr. Stephen Barrett that she was not involved in any patient solicitation and that when she learned about the "staged" accidents, she quit immediately. The court also ordered forfeiture of the $3.4 million. The chiropractors were subsequently disciplined by the Florida Department of Health. [Barrett S. Fraud ring organizers and three chiropractors get prison sentences. Chirobase, updated November 8, 2010]

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This page was revised on November 8, 2010.