An orthopedic surgeon who botched and faked thousands of surgeries over a five-year period has pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud.
Dr. Spyros Panos, who practiced medicine in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., changed his plea from not guilty to guilty when he appeared in federal court in White Plains, N.Y. last week.
Under a plea arrangement, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and must pay a $250,000 fine. He has also agreed to pay the government $5 million as restitution for false and overstated Medicare and Medicaid charges.
Panos was freed on bail and will be sentenced in March next year.
"I willingly and knowingly executed a scheme to defraud the health care benefit programs by causing my medical practice, Mid-Hudson Medical Group in Dutchess County, New York, to submit bills to insurance providers that included inaccurate billing codes in order to obtain higher insurance payments than that would have been paid for the procedures I actually performed," Panos read aloud from a written statement in court after entering his plea.
According to court transcripts, by pleading guilty, Panos admitted to making false representations of the medical services he performed. For example, Panos claimed he performed various techniques and procedures during surgeries when in fact he did not, either because they weren't medically necessary or because they would have resulted in reduced payments from insurance providers.
The charges stated that from 2007 through 2011 Panos reported performing "thousands of surgical procedures, often as many as 20 or more in a single day," included many which were never carried out. Panos and his former medical group submitted claims in excess of $35 million to health care providers.