Patients died while U.S. Government and Texas state health agencies pretended all was well
* * *
When he walked through the doors of Terrell’s only hospital some saw him as a savior, rescuing the facility from certain bankruptcy and closure. It was the summer of 2008, and Doctor Tariq Mahmood, who had a knack for buying troubled health care centers, went quickly to work to turn the financial problems around.
But as far as the employees were concerned, the honeymoon was short-lived. As Mahmood took over Renaissance Hospital, staff members grew increasingly alarmed by his behavior. Patient Quality Director Edwina Henry felt she had no choice but to contact state authorities to advise them of crimes she was witnessing. But as generally happens in American healthcare, her legitimate complaints fell on deaf ears.
An appalling 4 years passed before authorities finally acted, and by that time Mahmood had submitted more than $1,000,000 in fake billings to Medicare and Medicaid. Worse, the standard of patient care at his 6 small-town hospitals was killing people.
In Mahmood’s early weeks at Renaissance, patient quality director Henry testified that she witnessed numerous threats to patient safety, specifically, doctors treating patients who had undergone no proper background check; an emergency room MD falling asleep and not waking up when needed; unsupervised staff members routinely accessing the unattended pharmacy.
Henry also witnessed Mahmood making fraudulent entries into other physicians’ charts, faking patient treatment notes to boost insurance billing.
“He was adding conditions to the patients’ charts – things that were supposedly wrong with them,” Henry said. “He wrote whatever he wanted and none of it was true.”
Henry secretly alerted authorities to the fraud. She received no effective response.
From 2008-2012, Mahmood’s group of small-town hospitals were repeatedly cited for endangering patients. But reports of patient neglect; questionable management practices and rundown conditions continued.
Word of this medical disgrace reached numerous agencies, including criminal investigative units and the IRS. But agencies were slow to take action and – as often occurs – refused to share information with each other. It wasn’t until 2013 that the law focused on Mahmood.
In February, Renaissance was closed. By then, neglectful patient care had resulted in at least three deaths.
Two months later Mahmood was arrested and charged with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.
In court the prosecution was able to prove that Mahmood directed his staff members at Central Texas Hospital in Cameron to make changes on patient charting information, in order to increase insurance claims from his other hospitals. “In many cases,” the prosecutor stated, these bills were “for patients he had never seen.”
In another incident, the state terminated funding to Mahmood’s Shelby Regional Medical Center in East Texas, after investigators learned that an ambulance patient died after being rushed to the ER, but the doctor on duty refused to leave his sleeping room to treat the emergency, and the patient died.
Doctor Tariq Mahmood, age 62, was finally convicted by a federal jury of more than a $1,000,000 Medicare and Medicaid theft. He was found guilty of 15 charges of Healthcare Fraud, Identity Theft and Conspiracy. In a sane world he would have been found guilty of Homicide as well.
Mahmood, who lived in Cedar Hill, faces decades of prison time, including 10 years for each fraud count as well as another 10 for the conspiracy conviction.
At the time of his arrest he operated Renaissance Hospital in Terrell, now closed; Cozby Germany Hospital in Grand Saline; Central Texas Hospital in Cameron; Community General Hospital in Dilley; Lake Whitney Medical Center in Whitney and Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center.
Here’s more on the lab coat lunatic:
* * *
Tariq Mahmood was born and raised in Pakistan. He immigrated to the U.S. and until his arrest, he lived behind wrought iron gates in a 10,000 square-foot mansion in Cedar Hill.
America. What a country.
# # #