An Auburn doctor has been indicted by a federal grand jury for alleged health care fraud and providing false statements on health care matters.
On Friday, the office of U.S. Attorney George L. Beck released a statement saying that On May 21, John W. Mitchell, a cardiologist based in Auburn, was indicted for allegedly submitting false claims for inserting unnecessary heart stents, as well as falsely documenting patient medical records. The 10-count indictment had been previously sealed before being opened Wednesday.
According to the indictment, the scheme lasted between January 2006 and February 2012, where Dr. Mitchell falsely recorded the existence of coronary artery blockages in procedures at his private practice at The Heart Center Cardiology in Auburn, which is also known as the Institute for Advanced Cardiovascular Care. The indictment lists at least two patients who claimed to have been defrauded.
“A coronary stent was not considered medically necessary absent a diagnosis of at least a 70 percent blockage,” the release stated. “In an apparent attempt to increase his profit, Dr. Mitchell is alleged to have implanted stents in patients who did not have a 70 percent or more blockage in their arteries while falsely recording otherwise in their medical records.”
The release stated that a forfeiture of $450,000 is being sought from Mitchell in the indictment.
On Friday, Dr. Mitchell released the following statement:
“I am disappointed that the government has chosen to bring untrue charges against me. For nearly 30 years, I have faithfully served patients in the Auburn-Opelika area and I am proud of my record. In all my years of practice, I have performed a procedure only if I believed it to be medically necessary and in the best interest of my patient.
“Ever since I started the heart program at EAMC in 1985, my practice has been built on doing what is best for my patients. I have taken care of patients from all walks of life whether or not they have the ability to pay. Taking care of patients is my life¹s calling and I would never betray the trust of the patients who have come to me for care.
“The charges that the government has brought against me are false. I look forward to my day in court and the opportunity to clear my name.”
If convicted, Dr. Mitchell could face up to 10 years in prison.