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October 21, 2010

"Couple get long prison terms in Kansas 'pill mill' case"

The title of this post is the headline of this local article providing the outcome in a high-profile federal health care fraud case.  Here are the details:

Linda Schneider should carry most of the responsibility for her husband’s patients who overdosed and died, said a federal judge who described the deaths as “an avoidable tragedy motivated by greed.” But Stephen Schneider, a former physician, could have stopped it, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said Wednesday as he sentenced the couple.

Belot gave Linda Schneider 33 years in prison and Stephen Schneider 30 years for their practices of prescribing painkillers at their Haysville clinic. Stephen Schneider is 57; Linda Schneider is 52. There is no parole from federal prison.

Belot said Linda Schneider, a licensed practical nurse who managed the clinic, set up an operation to make money off the quantity of patients, not the quality of care. “I have the distinct belief that had she not been involved in the operation of the clinic, or had she approached her role there in a professional and responsible way, none of us would be here,” Belot said, explaining her higher sentence.

Instead, Belot said, the evidence had shown her to be “a scheming, manipulative, uncaring criminal who believed, erroneously, that she was smart enough to get away with it.”

He said Stephen Schneider could have prevented the 68 overdose deaths that prosecutors said were linked to the clinic. “Stephen Schneider, as a doctor, had both legal and moral responsibilities to his patients to do no harm,” the judge said....

The Schneiders’ defense team insisted that their clients were not criminals. “We truly believe in their innocence,” said Lawrence Williamson, who represented Stephen Schneider. “We don’t believe justice has fully been served, and we hope there is a shot on appeal.”

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Article: "The jury found that the couple directly contributed to the deaths of 10 patients.'

Contributed. Most chronic pain patients are really sick, and have a high death rate. If they die because their heart stopped, is it from the medication or from their diseases? Tough call even for a pathologist, with the advantage of medical records, and access to treating medical personnel. How this jury can draw such difficult conclusions, I would like to learn more.

I have suggested to doctor friends to legally attack the other side, starting with e-discovery. The defense bar is totally opposed to such tactics. They need the prosecution more than the client, who is expendable, unlike the prosecution. I have also spoken privately to chairs of licensing boards about other doctors in similar situations. There are always outrageous facts about the corruption of these doctors which never made it into the press. So most prosecutions are reasonable and not oppression of clinical care. Nevertheless, I would like to make these government workers civilly liable to the innocent clinician, personally. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 21, 2010 9:22:30 AM

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