DETROIT — The victims of a Michigan doctor who was imprisoned two years ago for giving unnecessary chemotherapy and over-medicating patients still live with physical, financial and emotional scars.
Farid Fata, 52, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for deceiving Blue Cross-Blue Shield and Medicare of about $34 million by prescribing chemotherapy to cancer-free patients and over-medicating others at his five hematology and oncology clinics, the Detroit News reported .
“To this day, I still don’t know if I had cancer,” said Rhonda Bonk Teague, a former patient of Fata’s who received radiation therapy and chemotherapy before a separate physical later told her she didn’t have throat cancer.
A $12 million fund of Fata’s money and assets was set up to compensate those affected, but many former patients say they’ve received minimal or no restitution.
Former patient Teddy Howard, who was given chemotherapy for a blood cancer he didn’t have, said he asked for $55,000 in restitution but received nothing.
“If Fata pleaded guilty to my case, what claim do I need to prove?” he said.
Howard said he feels the government walked away from him and other patients who helped prosecutors investigate Fata by not providing sufficient restitution.
“We’re victims again,” he said. “We’re victims of the system now.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, nearly 75 percent of the 700 people who applied for restitution through the claims website have received preliminary approval. The office said in a statement that receipts and other paper work are required to obtain the funds. But some former patients no longer have some of that documentation.
Howard now is receiving disability payments due to difficulty working, but he said he’s barely getting by.
“I’m pissed. How do you live with the knowledge and the doctor was killing you, knowing you could have died,” Howard said. “I’m hurting. I didn’t do it to myself. I want to talk as loud and hard so no one else has to go through this again.”
Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/