Nev. Jury Has Foot Up on Las Vegas Podiatrist

April 4, 2005

Following a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson, a jury convicted a Las Vegas podiatrist recently of 67 counts of Health Care Fraud for fraudulently billing Medicare for surgeries not performed and services not rendered, announced Daniel Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Nick T. Nguyen D.P.M., 40, a licensed Nevada podiatrist, was indicted in May 2004 on charges that he knowingly and willfully executed a scheme to defraud Medicare of money in connection with the delivery and payment for health care benefits and services. In convicting, the jury reportedly found that Dr. Nguyen fraudulently billed Medicare for ingrown toenail surgeries for 16 patients, when in fact he rendered routine foot care. The jury also found that Dr. Nguyen fraudulently billed for office visits and surgical procedures on the same day, when in fact he had not rendered the two separate services.

In order to conceal the scheme, Dr. Nguyen listed fraudulent diagnosis codes on Medicare claim forms and falsified progress notes in order to receive the reimbursements from Medicare. Dr. Nguyen also waived co-payments and charged his cash customers significantly lower prices than he billed Medicare.

Medicare regulations do not permit a physician to be reimbursed for rendering routine foot care or for office visits and surgical procedures performed on the same day, unless a significant separately identifiable service above and beyond the usual care associated with the procedure is provided.

Dr. Nguyen is free on bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled for July 1, 2005. He is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

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