‘Life destroyed’: A physician warns other physicians about accepting money from drug and medical device manufacturers
A New York MD who is now a convicted felon, is warning other doctors about the dangers of accepting bribes from sales reps for drugs and medical devices.
Doctor Michele Martinho, who faces the possibility of jail time and the loss of her medical license when she is sentenced, pleaded guilty in 2014 to one count of accepting a bribe. This week she spoke to a small audience at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, telling her story as a warning to future doctors, according to The Washington Post.
While she learned about medicine, Martinho says medical school did not prepare her for the business of medicine.
Martinho is one of more than 25 doctors who have pleaded guilty in a $200,000,000 health fraud scheme operated by the now-defunct blood-testing company Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in New Jersey. She accepted monthly payments of $5,000 to refer patients to the lab for blood tests and other screenings, the newspaper said.
She told students her life has been “destroyed,” and she advised them to never accept anything from drug, device and other representatives who parade through doctors’ offices and to consult an attorney who specializes in medical practice with any questions.
Martinho accepted $155,000 in monthly envelopes stuffed full of cash. She has now acknowledged she realized she was evading tax laws when she took the money. But she says she did not understand that the referral itself was considered a kickback.
Really? She spent 10 years in college and she didn’t know what ‘accepting a bribe’ meant?
Doctor Martinho now spends her time speaking at healthcare and ethics institutions. She is hoping her efforts of warning other doctors of the traps set by drug cartels and medical device makers, will persuade the judge to reduce her punishment at her sentencing hearing.
(We are indebted to investigative reporter Joanne Finnigan, who writes for FierceHealthcare, for her reporting on this little-known issue)
Here’s another look at the case: