Florida

Florida is suspending a doctor’s medical license after $637,000 in fraud

UPDATE: Dr. Sheetal Kumar was sentenced Friday to two years in federal prison and two years of supervised release.

In a state infamous for laissez-faire doctor discipline, Stuart obstetrician and gynecologist Sheetal Kumar has been hit with an emergency suspension of her physician’s license by the Florida Department of Health.

In a letter she wrote to federal court: “I will never practice again. I cannot fathom the thought of documenting patient notes or circling billing codes ever again.”

No fatalities have been associated with Kumar, as in the case of West Miami-Dade plastic surgeon Arnaldo Valls. She didn’t falsify records to cover up blowing a cancer diagnosis in the case of Weston’s Peter Choy.

Kumar’s problems involved not death, but dollars.

With some healthcare fraud, the 48-year-old Kumar got $637,000 deep into the pockets of Blue Cross, Humana, Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid. She has been convicted on 23 counts of healthcare fraud (she was charged with 29 total counts) and will be sentenced Friday.

“I have had a lot of time to think about the verdict, but I am not able to make the ‘not guilty’ counts and the ‘guilty’ counts fit into a coherent pattern,” Kumar wrote in a letter to the court. “However, I know that the members of the jury did their best with the information they were provided and I respect their service and decision.”

In addition to obstetrics and gynecology, Kumar treated urinary and fecal incontinence. The indictment says this allowed her and her staff to submit even more false insurance claims for tests such as complex cystometrogram, uroflowmetry, voiding pressure studies, electromyography studies of anal/urethral sphincter and anorectal manometry.

Kumar has been licensed in Florida since 1999 with no previous professional discipline issues.

Here's how a national fraud convinced doctors to purchase unnecessary medical tests and cost Medicare millions in the process. It all ended because a Hilton Head doctor — and several others — alerted the federal government.

Her husband and fellow doctor Amitabh Kumar wrote in a pre-sentencing letter to the court: “While many others may choose to point fingers elsewhere and shy away from taking personal responsibility by blaming staff who had committed crimes or not followed office protocols and directions, or even questionable methods used by the Government to build its case, it is just not in her character to hide under such defenses.”

Sheetal Kumar’s letter partially blamed staff before saying: “As captain of the ship that went down, I take full responsibility for all delinquencies and negligence under my watch.”

She also begged for no prison time, but to receive community service.

“Please take away my right to practice medicine, please take away my ability to bill government programs, please take away my ability to enjoy anything outside of my children, please don’t allow me to ever do anything pleasurable, but please don’t take me away from my children.”

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.

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