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Reaction: "The Accident Swindlers:" - "Agency Ignored Reports of Phony Patients" - Pamela Zekman and Gene Mustain- Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-28
"Many doctors are outraged at the sight of phony patients being hospitalized solely for the purpose of inflating insurance claims. Some do something about it.. . . ."
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-26
"Victims of minor auto accidents in Illinois are overcompensated while victims of major accidents are undercompensated. "Experts agree that is the unfair result of the current system for settling auto-acciddent claims in the state. . . . "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-27
"Northlake Community Hospital has an image problem. "Two of its directors are under federal indictment on charges of defrauding the Medicare program and the hospital of more than $350,000. One of its busiest doctors is banned from the state Medicaid program and another was banned and reinstated. "Its operators say they have turned a formerly bankrupt hospital into an $11 million asset - specializing in podiatry services. "But the Sun-Times and WLS-TV (Channel 7) found that Northlake has another sideline -- phony auto-accident cases . . . ". . . An undercover reporter, posing as an accident 'victim' was admitted to Northlake by [Dr. Noberto T.] Agustin. The doctor invented serious injuries and fixed hospital records to show that he saw the patient every day. In fact, Agustin saw the patient once -- on the night before the reporter was discharged and handed a $697.30 bill for a four-day stay. . . ."
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-25
"Checking into a hospital can be as easy as checking into a hotel. "That's what completely healthy Sun-Times and WLS-TV (Channel 7) reporters posing as auto-accident victims discovered during their investigation of The Accident Swindlers. "If other accident victims were hospitalized as easily as the reporters were, 'we wouldn't have enough hotel and motel rooms in the country to take care of their needs,' said one prominent orthopedic specialist . . . "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-24
"There's a doctor in Skokie who uses an ordinary household instrument to examine patients. "Dr. Nicholas P. Mastores uses the telephone. "After a telephone conversation with a reporter, Mastores submitted a $100 bill for a 'complete physical examination' and 'x-ray interpretation.' There was no exam. There were no x-rays. . ."
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-22
" Dr. Gerald J. Rabin is a real operator. He urges unnecessary surgery. "'You've got a separation of your shoulder, and we'll probably have to operate,' Rabin told a reporter posing as an auto-accident victim. . . "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-21
"Dr. J. Dale Bargyh committed one significant oversight when he submitted a $670 bill to a reporter posing s an auto-accident victim. "Bargyh never examined the patient . . . "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-20
"The patient was a Sun-Times reporter posing as an auto-accident victim. The Associated Physicians' Clinic had just invented injuries for him. Now it was sending him to Community Hospital of Evanston, where nearly all the patients are equally phony. . . "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-18
"It is The Accident Swindlers' favorite hospital. "Hundreds of auto-accident patients have walked through its doors -- unquestioned, unexamined, unhurt. "They receive little or no treatment, yet they are charged luxury-hotel rates. The usually stay five days and collect a $1000 to $2000 bill used by their lawyers to inflate insurance settlements. . . "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-17
"Anyone can be an ambulance chaser, in Chicago, thousands of people are. "Most are amateurs -- hospital employees, ambulance attendants, tow-truck drivers, cab-drivers or body-and-fender men. For $50 or $100, they refer accident victims to lawyers. "Professional chasers, however, are a breed apart . . . " "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-15
"You don't have to be a lawyer to practice personal injury law. "Archie Burton, Fred Harvey and Wes McKinney know. They are former ambulance chasers who left the streets and independently created a new, lucrative occupation -- the accident 'broker.' "Years of seeing lawyers make big money from automobile accidents taught them something they could make it, too. And they are so expert at their new trade, they now teach attorneys the accident business . . . "
Chicago Sun Times 1980-02-14
"Some lawyers are always looking for the 'perfect' accident. When they find it, they're willing ot make under-the-table payments for a piece of the action. "The law firms of Sheldon Oliver Zisook and Basil C. Elias spread liberal amounts of upfront money around for the chance to represent Sun-Times and WLS-TV (Channel 7) reporters posing as accident victims . . . "
Chicago Sun TimesWLS-TV (Chicago, Channel 7) 1980-02-12