TIME Crime

Detroit Cancer Doctor Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison for Fraud

Doctor Cancer Fraud
Carlos Osorio—AP The office of Dr. Farid Fata in Oak Park, Mich. seen in 2013.

Farid Fata performed more than 9,000 unnecessary infusions or injections to 533 victims

(DETROIT) — A Detroit-area cancer doctor who put patients through needless, grueling treatments to collect millions from insurers has been sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Dr. Farid Fata’s sentence Friday followed three days of unflattering testimony from experts and patients who said he ruined their health to enrich himself. Fata admitted it in his remarks to the judge, sobbing and saying his “quest for power is self-destructive.”

Through tears and clenched teeth, patients this week told emotional stories of broken relationships, poor finances and lifetime health woes because of excessive chemotherapy and other drugs.

The 50-year-old Fata pleaded guilty to fraud and other crimes. The government said there were 553 victims, along with Medicare and insurers. There were more than 9,000 unnecessary infusions or injections.

TIME People

Doctor Who Opposed Vaccines Found Dead in Apparent Suicide

He was known for publishing controversial research suggesting a link between vaccines and autism

Dr. Jeff Bradstreet, an anti-vaccine physician, has been found dead in what police believe is a suicide.

Bradstreet died of what authorities say appears to be a self-inflicted gun shot to the chest, the Associated Press reports. His body was found by a fisherman on June 19 in Rocky Broad River in Chimney Rock, N.C. Authorities also found a handgun in the water.

Bradstreet, who is from Georgia, published controversial research suggesting a link between vaccines and autism. The claim has been widely disproved in the medical community. His family is raising money to investigate his death.

Officials are still investigating as well.

[AP]

TIME Cancer

What to Do If You Have a Cancer Scare

doctor-patient-standing
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Don’t over-rely on Dr. Google

Late last month, Angelina Jolie announced that she had surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes with the aim of reducing her cancer risk. In her New York Times op-ed, she noted that she had recently had a cancer scare: Her doctor was concerned about some unusual blood test results, and sent her for further scans.

“I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt,” she wrote. “I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.” Fortunately, the follow-up tests showed no signs of cancer.

Chances are at least once in your life you’ll have some sort of cancer scare—a strange mole that needs to be biopsied, a repeat mammogram, an abnormal Pap smear. In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about: “This happens every day in doctors’ offices all across America,” says Richard Wender, MD, chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society.

But it can be hard to stay calm when it’s actually happening to you. Here are five things to keep in mind:

Take a step back

Abnormal cancer screening results happen all the time: As many as 35% of women over the age of 40 report having had an abnormal Pap smear or mammogram at some point. “The most common resolution of that abnormal test is finding that you don’t have cancer,” Dr. Wender says.

Remember, the reason these tests have such high cancer-detection rates is because they screen women for any small thing—like calcification on a mammogram—that could potentially indicate cancer.

Read more: 19 Medical Tests Everyone Needs

Make sure you’re hearing your doctor

“Sometimes, when I explain a screening test result to a patient, I can sense that she’s so anxious she’s not processing what I’m saying,” says Dr. Wender. Research shows that almost half of the details remembered from a doctor’s visit are incorrect.

Don’t rely on your memory, especially at an emotional time like this. Either jot down exactly what the doctor says (and don’t be afraid to have them repeat it) or make sure a friend or family member is either in the office with you or on the phone when you speak to your physician.

Read more: What Doctors Don’t Tell You (But Should)

Try not to stress about additional waiting

If suspicious mammogram findings mean your doctor recommends a biopsy, don’t worry if it’s several weeks away. “Waiting three weeks will not change the prognosis and outcome at all if it does turn out to be cancer,” says Dr. Wender.

You also shouldn’t necessarily be alarmed if your doctor doesn’t recommend more invasive testing—such as a colposcopy or biopsy—and instead suggests simply returning for follow-up screening in six months.

“Oftentimes a doctor or technician will see something that doesn’t look like cancer, but they just want to double check it in a few months to be safe,” explains Dr. Wender.

Read more: A Complete Guide to Breast Cancer Screening

Don’t go overboard on Dr. Google

Sometimes, Google can be reassuring: “If you type in ‘abnormal pap smear’ or ‘abnormal mammogram’ or even ‘suspicious mole,’ you’ll see how common the false positive rate is,” says Dr. Wender.

But other times, you’ll just scare yourself unnecessarily. “I had a patient recently who had some tests come back suggestive of a very lethal form of uterine cancer,” recalls Dr. Wender. “When I called her, I said, ‘Don’t research it on the Internet. Just don’t do it.’ She didn’t—and six weeks later, when we learned after a surgical biopsy that the results were benign, she was tremendously relieved.”

Read more: 9 Scary Symptoms You Don’t Need to Worry About

Ask lots of questions

If you’ve got fears, articulate them. “If you ask your doctor what the likelihood is that your test result indicates cancer, they may not have exact numbers but they should be able to respond to you in a general way, which is usually reassuring,” says Dr. Wender.

And if they brush off your worries, or refuse to answer you, it may be time to seek out another doctor—or at least get a second opinion.

Read more: How Good Is Your Doctor?

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: This Is What Getting Cancer Looks Like on Social Media

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

An Apple a Day Keeps the Pharmacist Away

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But not the doctor

Researchers who set out to determine if the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is actually true have found it a bit more complicated.

In their study, published online Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, they concluded that people who consumed apples daily were not less likely to stay overnight at a hospital or visit a mental health professional, but they were likely to use fewer prescription medications.

The study authors reached that conclusion after surveying 8,399 people (753 were apple-a-day folks). Apple eaters were more likely to be educated, less likely to smoke and more likely to be a racial or ethnic minority.

“Our findings suggest that the promotion of apple consumption may have limited benefit in reducing national health care spending,” the study authors write. “In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying ‘An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.'”

Even if apple lovers still have to visit the doctor, there are other perks to eating fruit every day — a healthy habit Americans are encouraged to pick up.

Read next: Foods You Should Eat Instead of Taking Vitamins

TIME technology

See How Photoshop Has Altered the Way We See the World

Photoshop turns 25 years old today, take a look back at how it has been used for better and for worse

TIME Bizarre

A Florida Teen Impersonated a Doctor for a Whole Month

"I am really getting old because these young doctors look younger every year," one physician thought

A teenager in Florida managed to fool an entire medical center into thinking he was a doctor for a whole month before he was found out.

The teen wore a white coat that read “Anesthesiology” on the back as he walked through the corridors of St. Mary’s Medical Center in Palm Beach, KCTV 5 News reports.

“He presented himself with a patient of our practice and introduced himself as Dr. Robinson,” Dr. Sebastian Kent said. “The first thing I thought was, ‘I am really getting old because these young doctors look younger every year.'”

The teen was discovered after being caught in an examination room with a patient while wearing a mask and a stethoscope.

His mother told police he had an undisclosed illness and had not been taking his medication. Both police and the hospital decided not file charges.

[KCTV 5 News]

TIME health

Why Fat-Shaming by Doctors Really, Really Matters

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Between 210,000 and 440,000 people die every year as a result of preventable hospital mistakes. How many of those are casualties of weight bias?

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Recently I ran across an article in the Boston Globe detailing a new survey on medical errors in Massachusetts. The findings were stunning: Nearly 25% of Massachusetts residents reported a medical mistake had occurred either to them or to someone they know, and of those, half said the oversight had serious repercussions to their health.

The study, along with other new research into medical mistakes and patient safety, was commissioned by the Betsy Lehman Center, an organization named for a Globe health reporter who died in 1994 when she was given an overdose of chemotherapy for her breast cancer — an overdose that was four times the correct amount.

Medical errors are no small matter in the US. A 2013 report shocked everyone when it revealed that between 210,000 and 440,000 people die every year as a result of preventable hospital mistakes. To put that in context, heart disease, the number one cause of death in the US, killed just shy of 600,000 people in 2010. Cancer, death-causer number two, killed 577,000 people the same year. Horrifically, the 2013 report places preventable medical mistakes as the third-biggest cause of death in the US.

It’s enough to make you not to want to go to a hospital, ever.

I talk a lot about fat-shaming in medical contexts. I’ve done so for years, and the single most common misapprehension I get from people is that fat-shaming by a doctor is merely a matter of personal discomfort. People assume that complaints about bad treatment by weight-biased doctors — doctors who often ignore symptoms or fail to run tests, or run tests that are unnecessary, or who knee-jerkily prescribe weight loss for everything from allergies to acne — are simply a matter of fat patients wanting their doctors to be nicer to them. “Doctors need to be able to tell you when you’re morbidly obese!” critics assert, as though that is even approaching the point.

In the first place, fat patients — or ANY patients — wanting their doctors to be nicer to them is entirely warranted. Doctors are not gods, and patients do not need to accept condescension, rudeness, or cruelty simply because the person dispensing it wears a white coat. I realize virtually every GP in the world is overworked and overstressed and trying to do way more than is reasonable for one person, and I have no doubt that eventually patients start to all run together, an endless parade of meatpuzzles with varying sets of symptoms, but that’s not an excuse. Doctors should consider how they communicate with their patients, and should make efforts to do so in ways that are at the very least respectful of basic human dignity. Even noncompliant patients — which I suspect is how many doctors see fat people — deserve to be treated with respect.

But besides all that, fat-shaming is not just an issue of feeling comfy and safe in the exam room. Fat-shaming can have life-threatening consequences when a doctor is making assumptions about a patient’s health and needs based exclusively on a visual appraisal and personal assumptions. This is not to say that a visual assessment isn’t useful as a part of an exam, but it’s just that — a PART of an exam, and insufficient for an accurate picture of an individual’s whole health.

While limited research has been done on this angle specifically, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that a doctor with unexamined weight bias is going to be at a far greater risk of making mistakes when diagnosing and treating fat patients.

And when people argue that doctors are entitled to weight bias, they are overlooking the very real danger that weight bias can and does lead to serious consequences for fat patients, when doctors assume that an ovarian tumor is just weight gain caused by overeating, or that asthma is just a patient being “out of shape,” or that fibromyalgia is just laziness.

If you don’t believe me, then check out the #DiagnosisFat hashtag on Twitter, which I inadvertently started when I had a little ramble on the subject and solicited people’s stories of medical misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis owing to weight bias.

Even I’m a little stunned by the number of people responding, and the fact that so many of the stories have similar themes. The experiences being shared are by turns frustrating, enraging, and in some cases, downright brutal. While culturally we’re very eager to blame fat people for rising healthcare costs, we seem unwilling to consider that assigning that blame creates an environment in which many fat people are not being treated with the same level of care as thinner patients.

And I shouldn’t need to explain that when quality of care goes down, so does a patient’s health and prognosis. A fat patient whose cancer goes undetected for far longer as she struggles to follow her doctor’s advice to lose weight is going to require far more dramatic efforts than a patient who receives the correct diagnosis and treatment in the earlier stages of the disease. A fat patient whose doctor is praising sudden weight loss caused by a gastrointestinal disorder will suffer debilitating symptoms longer than a patient whose doctor doesn’t assume unexplained weight loss is always a positive thing. A fat patient whose Lupus is ignored for a decade because her doctor assumes her symptoms are weight-related will have permanent damage — damage that a patient whose doctor identifies the condition sooner will not.

Weight bias in medicine has dire repercussions for many, and so when a doctor makes a fat-shaming comment during an exam, while it may be a momentary source of distress, it’s also much larger than that — it’s a red flag. And in a medical environment where literal hundreds of thousands of people die every year as a result of preventable medical errors, it’s a red flag worth heeding. Your survival may depend on it.

Lesley Kinzel is Deputy Editor at xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 8

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A new crowdfunded software tool for reporting sexual assault can reduce stigma and protect survivors.

By Shafaq Hasan in Nonprofit Quarterly

2. Millions of discarded laptop batteries could light homes in the developing world.

By David Talbot in the MIT Technology Review

3. A long overdue transparency plan for clinical trials will finally open results to the medical community and the public.

By Julia Belluz in Vox

4. Without role models or a road map through the upper ranks, women are leaving the tech industry at the mid-career point in droves.

By Sue Gardner in the Los Angeles Times

5. A new plan to drop strips of prairie into cropland helps preserve soil and battle climate change.

By Dylan Roth in Iowa State Daily

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME India

Indian Doctor Arrested After Women Die Following Sterilization Surgery

Women, who underwent a sterilization surgery at a government mass sterilisation "camp", lie in hospital beds for treatment at CIMS hospital in Bilaspur
Anindito Mukherjee—Reuters Women, who underwent a sterilization surgery at a government mass-sterilization "camp," lie in hospital beds for treatment at the Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Bilaspur, in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, on Nov. 13, 2014

The surgeon blames pressure to meet targets and faulty medicine for the deaths

The doctor at the center of a tragedy in which at least a dozen women died following sterilization surgery in Bilaspur, India, was suspended from duties and arrested on Wednesday night.

R.K. Gupta, 59, operated on 83 women in five hours on Saturday, according to the BBC.

“It was not my fault, the administration pressured me to meet targets,” local news outlet NDTV quoted Gupta as saying. The doctor attributed the deaths to the medicines given to the women after the surgery.

In January, the Chhattisgarh state government gave him a commendation for performing a record number of sterilizations.

Meanwhile, another woman lost her life at a different sterilization camp in the same district and 20 others reported postsurgery complications, the Indian Express reports.

Authorities are still investigating the fatalities, which occurred during one of the many mass-sterilization drives organized to combat the country’s rapid population growth. The exact cause of death remains unclear, but so far the quality of medicines administered, as well as the infrastructure of the hospitals where the operations were conducted, has been identified as possible culprits.

“To me it’s not the surgeon’s fault, because if there was a problem with the surgeon’s actions there would have been bleeding and damage to the organs,” says Dr. Ashutosh Halder of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi.

Halder speculates that the complications were most likely caused by inadequate sterilization of the equipment used or an unfavorable hospital environment, although a team of four AIIMS doctors who visited the site told reporters they were “satisfied” with the arrangements there.

Sujatha Natarajan, president of the Family Planning Association of India, says that although precautions are necessary, doctors are not the sole bearers of responsibility. “Quality of service involves much larger stakeholders than that,” Natarajan tells TIME. “Putting all the responsibility on the doctor is putting a very high risk on the program itself,”

India sterilized over 4 million people last year, about 97% of whom were women. People in rural areas are offered financial incentives to undergo sterilization.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 4

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Peer-to-peer sharing of experiences could transform health care.

By Susannah Fox in Iodine

2. A technological and analytical arms race is producing the best athletes in history. Can those advances be applied to education?

By James Surowiecki in the New Yorker

3. In South Bronx, startups are ‘onshoring’ technology jobs and trying to spark a revolution.

By Issie Lapowsky in Wired

4. ‘Sister City’ relationships foster cross-border collaboration and spur economic development.

By Nehemiah Rolle in Next City

5. Colleges and universities should focus on student success beyond graduation.

By Karen Gross and Ivan Figueroa at Inside Higher Ed

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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