A Chicago physician was recently accused of submitting false claims to both Medicare and Medicaid and taking unlawful kickbacks from pharmaceutical representatives in connection with antipsychotic drugs he prescribed to Illinois nursing home residents. The civil fraud lawsuit filed in federal court by the United States Attorney’s Office alleges that Dr. Michael J. Reinstein not only submitted as many as 140,000 false Medicare and Medicaid claims, but also lied about providing pharmacologic management to patients at more than 30 long-term care facilities in the Chicago Metro. According to Gary S. Shapiro, Acting U.S. Attorney, the lawsuit is the largest prescription drug fraud case ever brought against a single person in the Chicago area.
In 2009, ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune conducted an investigation into Dr. Reinstein’s care of mentally ill nursing home patients. The investigation reportedly found that the 69-year-old doctor was previously accused of over-medicating such patients with clozapine despite the drug’s black box safety warning. A black box warning is the highest warning the nation’s Food and Drug Administration will issue without removing a pharmaceutical product from the market. Additionally, at least three of Dr. Reinstein’s patients allegedly died while taking the reportedly potent drug.
In 2007, Dr. Reinstein purportedly prescribed drugs to more than 4,000 Medicaid patients. He was also receiving federal reimbursement checks for alleged patient care visits. According to Medicaid records, Dr. Reinstein wrote more clozapine prescriptions for his Medicaid patients in 2007 than all of the physicians in the State of Texas combined. The federal lawsuit alleges the high number of clozapine prescriptions were largely written based on pharmaceutical company kickbacks rather than actual patient needs.
Dr. Reinstein reportedly began providing psychiatric services in Chicago in 1973. More recently, the physician’s office was moved to the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. According to federal prosecutors, more mentally ill nursing home residents reside in the area than any other part of the state. Despite that most physicians use the drug sparingly, at one point Dr. Reinstein was allegedly the largest prescriber of clozapine throughout the nation. At one nursing home, Dr. Reinstein reportedly prescribed the drug to three-fourths of the facility’s approximately 400 residents. At one point in time, although only four percent of schizophrenia patients nationwide received a clozapine prescription, about half of Dr. Reinstein’s schizophrenia patients were taking the drug.
Most Illinois nursing homes and other long-term care facilities receive Medicare and Medicaid funds. This means they are considered certified skilled nursing facilities. Physicians who treat patients at certified Illinois nursing homes are required to adhere to both state and federal laws and regulations. Like over-medicating in order to compensate for inadequate staff, prescribing drugs to nursing home residents based on financial gain or in conflict with a patient’s best interests is also unacceptable. Because most mentally ill long-term care facility residents cannot advocate on their own behalf, you should always discuss any suspected over-medication or other resident abuse with a skilled attorney.
If you believe your loved one was harmed as a result of receiving an improper prescription or other medication at an Illinois nursing home, do not hesitate to contact the committed lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today. Our knowledgeable Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week to help you protect the rights of your elderly and disabled friends and family members. To schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Chicago lawyer, call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.
Complaints and New Ownership May Have Improved Care at Allegedly Substandard Lincoln Nursing Home, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 19, 2012
Senate Bill Seeks to Protect Elderly Dementia Patients in Illinois, Throughout Nation, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 16, 2012
Doctor accused of taking kickbacks to prescribe anti-psychotic drug, Staff Report, Chicago Tribune