A podiatrist blew the whistle on her Ohio employer for Medicare fraud, and said she felt like she was working on an â€œassembly lineâ€ while servicing her patients.
Dr. Barbara Petkovic said she soon became aware she was working on false claims and fostering illegal kickbacks and couldnâ€™t be involved in the deception any longer,Â accordingÂ to WKYC on Monday.
â€œItÂ made me feel very uncomfortable,â€ Petkovic said. â€œI just felt it was wrong. I felt I was involved in it.â€
After she blew the whistle on Mobile Medical, the company was taken to court and made to pay $4.5 million in restitution to the federal government. The case was settled in 2015 but was just recently unsealed by a federal judge this year.
Petkovic said she filed false claims on behalf of patients for special diabetic shoes even though they didnâ€™t meet the standards. In addition, the company offered things like free dentures, eyeglasses, and hearing aids as a kickback to Medicare patients.
A similar Medicare fraudÂ schemeÂ involving a Brooklyn doctor saw him and four co-conspirators plead guilty this month to defrauding the government of $30 million. They too were billing patients for unnecessary medical services and buying patients off for their silence.
Petkovicâ€™s attorney, Warner Mendenhall, said Petkovic hurt her career by speaking out, but did so because it was the right thing to do.
â€œIt cost her her job. It really damaged her career but she came forward anyway and tried to make things right,â€ Mendenhall said.
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