SALISBURY — A Salisbury cardiologist faces as many as 35 years in prison after a federal jury this week found him guilty of six counts of health care fraud.
A federal jury in Baltimore on Tuesday convicted John R. McLean, 59, of Salisbury, on six healthcare fraud offenses in connection with a scheme during which he submitted insurance claims for inserting unnecessary cardiac stents, ordered unnecessary tests and made false entries in patient medical records in order to defraud Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.
McLean faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for health care fraud and five years for each of five counts of making false statements related to health care matters. The government is also seeking a forfeiture of over $700,000 believed to be the proceeds of the scheme.
According to evidence presented at trial, McLean had a private medical practice in Salisbury and hospital privileges at PRMC. From at least 2003 to 2007, McLean performed cardiac catheterizations and implanted unnecessary cardiac stents in more than 100 patients at PRMC. He then falsely recorded in the patients’ medical records the existence or extent or coronary artery blockage, known as lesions, observed during the procedures.
In addition, McLean ordered his cardiac patients undergo a battery of medically unnecessary follow-up tests such as cardiolite stress tests, echocardiograms and EKGs. McLean then submitted claims for the unnecessary stents and testing that were paid by health care benefit programs including Medicare and Medicaid.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein, who announced the conviction on Tuesday, said the charges against McLean were brought after careful consideration and investigation.
“The evidence shows Dr. McLean egregiously violated the trust of his patients and made false entries in their medical records to justify implanting unneeded cardiac stents and billing for the surgery and follow-up care,” he said. “We do not bring federal prosecutions based on discretionary judgments that might be disputed by reputable medical professionals.”
Nicholas DiGuilio, special agent in charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, took it a step further, saying, “Placing unnecessary stents in the hearts of patients is a crime of unthinkable proportions. We will continue to bring justice to those who practice greed rather than good medicine.”