‘Double-dipping’ doc bilked OHIP: Disciplinary panel

(Getty Images)A St. Catharines doctor committed professional misconduct by inappropriately billing OHIP from 2006-10, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has ruled.“His actions were dishonest. He abused the trust that his patients, their family members and the public have that he and the profession will act in their best interests,” a college discipline committee said of Dr. Gabriel Attallah.Prosecutor Carolyn Silver argued that Attallah “orchestrated a scheme to illicitly improve his billings at the expense of Ontario taxpayers who fund it.” Attallah took health card numbers from the relatives of caregivers who accompanied his patients to their appointments and then charged the non-patient escorts for services he never provided, the panel ruled.Attallah would also charge his patients for their services during the same visit, thus “skirting the rules and double-dipping,” said Silver.While the number of patients, and OHIP claims must be a “small percentage of Dr. Attallah’s practice … there is a clear pattern of involvement of family members that resulted in billings payable to Dr. Attallah for both the patient and the family member for the same visit,” the committee decided.“He was knowingly, improperly bilking the system,” said Silver. “When a patient says she’s worried because her mom is coughing, the doctor doesn’t get to bill OHIP for counselling because she’s describing a symptom.”Attallah’s actions constitute discreditable and unprofessional conduct, the judgment stated.Toronto neurologist accused of sexually assaulting patientsToronto doctor punished for sexual remarks, inappropriate touching during psychotherapyGUEST COLUMN: The facts regarding my work as a medical examiner“These people were not his patients — they didn’t come to him for medical services,” said Silver. “They were escorting their spouses, a parent or, in one case, a mother who couldn’t find babysitters brought both her children into the examination room with her.”The college rejected the defence’s argument that the billings were “inadvertent administrative errors.”However, the committee determined the billing shows “a pattern and were purposeful. He knowingly billed OHIP improperly … and created charts and notes that are false and inaccurate to support his improper billings,” the committee stated.A penalty hearing date has not been set.spazzano@postmedia.comCommentsShare your thoughts