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Former surgeon named as defendant in hundreds of lawsuits

Residents around the U.S. and in states like Illinois often turn to doctors and other medical professionals when experiencing pain or other worrisome physical symptoms. From a young age, many people grow up revering doctors and come to regard those men and women who choose the profession as intelligent and compassionate individuals who are focused on helping people ultimately feel better. Unfortunately, there are cases in which doctors take advantage of their position and the trust of patients.

An orthopedic surgeon recently learned that instead of spending his days seeing patients, he will soon be spending them staring at the walls of a prison cell. The doctor was accused of running an elaborate health insurance fraud operation in which he billed millions of dollars worth of false claims to health insurers.

For his criminal actions, the surgeon will spend the next four-and-a-half years in prison, followed by two years probation. Additionally, he’s been ordered to pay penalties and restitution amounts of up to $10 million. The surgeon, however, faces even more future legal battles as he’s been named as a defendant in hundreds of medical malpractice lawsuits.

According to court documents, the doctor routinely saw 60 patients per day. He’s accused of performing unnecessary procedures and surgeries which often put patients at risk for suffering complications and infections that, in some cases, resulted in painful and permanent injuries or even death.

Family members of one woman, who died a mere 24 hours after undergoing surgery, were present in the courtroom when the doctor was recently sentenced. They contend their loved one died as a result of the doctor’s negligent actions and that he used their mother “as a human cash register” for his own personal profit.

In the coming months, we’ll continue to discuss this case and the many pending medical malpractice lawsuits.

Source: The Journal News, “Surgeon Panos gets prison sentence; families don’t ‘think it’s enough‘,” John W. Barry, March, 8, 2014

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