French News Archive

Healthcare in France

Montpellier Doctor in Rampant Prescription Fraud

Tuesday 07 June 2016

A general practitioner based in the town of Montpellier, Herault is suspected of issuing false prescriptions, involving over €500,000 of public funds.

Greed and incompetence by the doctor rather than sophisticated surveillance by the authorities appears to have been behind the discovery of the fraud, which took place over two years in 2014 and 2015.

According to preliminary information provided by the French prosecutor, the doctor is charged with issuing false prescriptions to patients on an almost industrial scale.

Most frequent abuse was the issue of fake sick notes (arrêts de travail), for which patients travelled far and wide from neighbouring towns and departments to receive.

Many of the sick notes were pre-signed by the doctor and simply issued to patients who visited the surgery by his secretary, without any medical examination taking place.

The surgery was based in one of the poorer parts of the town, where business might expected to have been modest.

However, the records show the doctor declared over 20,000 medical consultations a year, or around 64 per day, six days out of seven.

As a result, the fee income amounted to over €800,000 a year, when the average for the region was €150,000.

Investigators found around 20 patient health cards (carte vitales) in the office, which were being used to register the consultations.

It was the use of the same card twice in one day that triggered a preliminary enquiry by the local health authority, the Caisse Primaire d'Assurance-maladie de l'Hérault.

Along with the doctor his secretary and a stand-by doctor have also been charged in the affair.

The doctor has also been temporarily suspended by the French medical council pending the proceedings.

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