A medical disciplinary committee has found a Saskatoon allergy doctor guilty of making fraudulent patient billings.
“The committee felt disturbed and saddened by the behavior of Dr. (Larry) Hardy,” its 44-page report concludes, adding the charges are very serious ones.
The three-doctor committee doesn’t recommend how Hardy should be punished. The executive council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons is scheduled to hear arguments June 23 about that.
Neither Hardy nor his lawyer could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Dr. Lowell Loewen from the college had no estimate about how much money was involved in the charges. “The issue is not dollars. The issue is the principle,” he said.
The patients referred to in the charges are simply a “representative sample” of Hardy’s billing practices. There were six charges involving more than 100 patients.
During the hearing, held over several days in November and January, 43 doctors and 26 patients or close family members testified.
The initial complaint about Hardy’s billing was laid by his former receptionist, Janet Martin, who worked for Hardy for 5½ years.
She said Hardy initially felt the college was “power hungry” and “out to get Doc.”
The committee eventually found Martin wasn’t a disgruntled employee and said it accepted her testimony over Hardy’s.
It said his evidence about his billing practices was evasive and added it “did not accept that Dr. Hardy was as unsophisticated and unaware of billing practices as he would have this committee believe.”
He was found guilty of billing for consultations when the patient wasn’t in his office on the day in question.
And he was found guilty of submitting bills for treatment of 17 patients when he wasn’t in the office that day and his nurse did the work.
The committee also declared him guilty of charging the more lucrative ‘referral’ rate when the patient had not been referred to him by another doctor. The records of close to 70 patients are noted in this charge.
The charge for a referral consultation is $81, while other consultations are worth $45 to $60 less.
Finally, Hardy was found guilty of charging for allergy and vital capacity testing when he hadn’t done it.
He was found not guilty of one charge alleging he double-billed to both the province and the federal Veterans Affairs Department for a patient’s treatment.
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