Last week, a psychiatrist, who informed the VWA that his patient was sicker than she actually was to extend her stay in hospital so he could get more payments, was sentenced to a six-month imprisonment and suspended for nine months and was ordered to pay fines and restitution to an outstanding amount of $50,000.
In Ringwood Magistrates’ Court, under the Accident Compensation Act, Dr. Pralay Mazumdar pleaded guilty last week to six counts relating to some of his medical transactions in the years 2012 and 2013 at a Dandenong hospital with injured employees.
Among the charges dealt with Dr. Mazumdar included two counts of knowingly provide false information, two counts of providing false information, and two counts of fraudulently obtaining payments.
After a thorough investigation, the court had been made aware that Dr. Mazumdar had been providing psychiatric services to VWA clients since 1998; and in 2009, he began seeing both in-patients and out-patients, and operating a psychiatrist service in Dandenong at the St John of God Pinelodge Clinic.
During these times of working at the clinic, he started providing psychiatric services to a number of VWA clients and sought payments from VWA agents for all these consultations and similar other services.
The court heard that between 5 March 2012 and 9 September 2013, while dealing with VWA clients, Dr Mazumdar committed a number of offences and accumulated a sum total of $44,539.78 in payments to which he was not entitled. These included the following malpractices and fraudulent activities:
- Overstating the length of his consultations on 114 reported occasions and as such fraudulently obtained payments that totaled $24,341.63.
- Obtaining payments for certain types of consultations for which he was not entitled to on 37 occasions and as such receiving $13,790.60 to which he was not entitled.
- Providing false information that misled VWA agents particularly referring to the health of four in-patients. In one particular case, an in-patient’s stay in the hospital was prolonged beyond what it should have reasonably been. As a result of this malpractice, Dr. Mazumdar received $1519.95 in payment for himself and $7493.55 for the St John of God Pinelodge Clinic for which there was no entitlement.
Clare Amies, the VWA’s Executive Director of Insurance, explained that it was the first time the VWA had prosecuted a psychiatrist.
She said that “psychiatrists are respected for the important work they do in restoring the mental health of people from all parts of the community.”
She further mentioned that their patients are mostly vulnerable people who depend on their psychiatrists to work in their interests; and as such, she is greatly disappointed that a trusted medical practitioner has deliberately misrepresented the state of his patients’ mental health for his personal gain.
Ms. Amies emphasised the importance of identifying and prosecuting those who do the wrong thing by the scheme, injured workers, and employers and focus should always remain on providing the best-quality health care to injured workers, and that their recovery is the key priority.