SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Dr. Amgad Hessein, a North Jersey anesthesiologist who owned Advanced Pain Management Specialists with offices in South Orange, Newark, Union, and Belleville, is under criminal indictment for health care claims fraud, according to a release from the Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey.
Hessein, states the release, "has been stripped of his medical license by the state Board of Medical Examiners for gross and repeated malpractice that includes giving unnecessary steroid injections to patients, creating fictitious patient records, and indiscriminately prescribing pain pills without medical justification."
Hessein must pay a $130,000 civil penalty, and reimburse the state $308,750 for its investigative and prosecuting costs, under the Board’s Final Decision and Order, states the release.
Hessein, who specialized in pain management, regularly used invasive procedures and injections -such as epidural steroid injections - to treat patients. In revoking his license, the Board deemed Hessein a “fundamentally corrupt and/or incompetent practitioner” who showed a “shocking disregard for patient safety and welfare.”
“Patients have a right to trust that their medical care is being rendered by competent practitioners in accordance with accepted medical standards,” said Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy. “Doctors who put their patients in peril through incompetence or negligence are a stain on their profession and have no place in the practice of medicine.”
The 59-year-old Hessein, who lives in Belmar, is awaiting trial in Union County on charges of conspiracy, health care claims fraud, and theft by deception. Hessein, along with his office manager, is charged with submitting more than $1.5 million in fraudulent Medicare and private health care claims between 2006 and 2010. His license has been temporarily suspended since shortly after his indictment in 2011.
The Board’s final decision to revoke Hessein’s license upholds the recommendation of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who heard the case last fall. The ALJ found that Hessein had engaged in repeated acts of gross negligence, fraud, and other violations of state statutes and regulations.
The release states that the misconduct cited by the Board included:
Administering steroid injections without medical justification and/or failing to stop administering ineffective steroid injections.
Failing to inform patients of potential, serious risks before performing injections.
Neglecting to follow up on patients’ potentially dangerous symptoms and complaints.
Failing to monitor vital signs of patients under sedation.
- Refilling pain medication prescriptions without medical justification.
Allowing and billing for unlicensed employees to render physical therapies.
- Creating fictitious patient records and submitting health claims based on those false records.
“By revoking Dr. Hessein’s license, the Board has upheld its commitment to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public,”said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “The egregious conduct and blatant malpractice demonstrated by Dr. Hessein erodes that trust, puts patients at risk, and will not be tolerated in New Jersey.”
The release also stated that "Hessein’s attorney had argued against revocation, asking that the board instead impose an alternative sanction, such as a license suspension for a limited period." The Board rejected that request, stating that "Hessein’s judgment and character was so corrupt, and his disregard for patient safety so flagrant and pervasive, that revoking his license was the only way to adequately protect the public."
“We cannot envision a circumstance in which such a fundamentally dishonest and negligent physician would ever be sufficiently rehabilitated to be trusted to hold a medical license again,” the Board wrote in its final decision.
Hessein’s criminal trial is scheduled to begin in Union County on June 20, 2016.
The Division of Consumer Affairs' Enforcement Bureau conducted its investigation with cooperation from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
Deputy Attorneys General Susan Brown-Peitz and Kay Ehrenkrantz represented the state in this matter.