Doctor expected to report to prison 

A former cardiologist has agreed to report to prison by Dec. 17 after losing his appeal to overturn a health care fraud conviction for allegedly bilking insurers for unnecessary treatments, according to court filings from prosecutors.

Dr. Mehmood M. Patel was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June 2009 following a three-month trial in which a jury convicted him on 51 counts of federal health care fraud.

He was accused of billing government and private insurers for more than $2 million in unnecessary heart procedures, allegedly misleading patients about the need for treatment and falsifying medical records to support the work.

Patel has remained free since 2009 while appealing the case. The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld his conviction in August and last month turned down a request by the former doctor to reconsider.

Patel’s attorney, Amy Adelson, had asked the appellate court to allow him to remain free pending a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

The appeals court last week denied the request to postpone the start of the prison sentence.

“He is a convicted felon, and he should begin serving his sentence,” federal prosecutors wrote in court filings arguing for Patel’s incarceration.

Patel has agreed to surrender himself on or before Dec. 17 to begin serving the prison term, according to court filings from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The former cardiologist can still appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

Patel’s attorney has said a key issue will be the use of criminal laws to question a doctor’s judgment on what course of treatment is deemed medically necessary.

Patel has drawn strong support from some in the local medical community. The Lafayette chapter of the National Medical Association wrote a letter to the federal appeals court on his behalf, praising his concern for patients and expertise.