Wed, Apr 14, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Hospital in trouble over malpractice

FORGERY AND CHEATINGWhile the health bureau has suspended its insurance contract with KMUH for a year, the hospital can pay a fine as an alternative

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Department of Health said yesterday it would fine Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-ho Memorial Hospital (KMUH) NT$150 million (US$5 million) on several counts of medical malpractice, including medical insurance fraud and the removal of healthy organs.

In 2006, a former gynecologist at the hospital, surnamed Hsu (許), allegedly performed surgeries on healthy patients and gave them chemotherapy to help them fraudulently obtain tens of millions of dollars in insurance compensation.

Hsu also cheated the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) out of more than NT$500,000 in reimbursements, director-general Cheng Shou-hsia (鄭守夏) said at a press conference yesterday.

Hsu was among seven doctors from 10 hospitals who were recruited by a fraud ring specializing in private insurance and national health insurance fraud.

The case was opened when one of the doctors who participated in the project had a change of heart, turned himself in and reported the activities of the organization to authorities.

The bureau said it would issue administrative penalties to the doctors and hospitals involved, and hand the case over to local prosecutors to seek criminal liabilities.

Department of Health minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) strongly reprimanded the doctors, saying the root of the problem was not cheating the national health insurance, but the lack of medical ethics.

“Committing forgery and ­cheating money from the system was wrong, but performing operations to remove healthy organs is abominable,” he said.

Yaung said the case was “an embarrassment to the medical field” and that the crimes of a few people in the medical profession had hurt the reputation of the entire medical community.

As a former professor at Kaohsiung Medical University, this incident made him wonder: “Is it because I didn’t teach students the right things?”

While the bureau suspended its national health insurance contract with the hospital for a year, it said it would allow the hospital to pay the fine in lieu of the suspension to accommodate the hospital’s patients.

The hospital said the crimes were the result of Hsu’s personal actions, which did not involve other doctors at the hospital, adding that it would seek an administrative remedy for what it called an “unfair” punishment.

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