How one doctor wreaked financial havoc on Texas hospitals

Allegations of fraudulent billing, poor patient care linked
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Reckless actions by the physician owner of hospitals in Texas wreaked not only financial havoc on the facilities but cost patient lives as well, the Dallas Morning News reported.

According to the Morning News, Tariq Mahmood, M.D., purchased financially troubled Renaissance Hospital Terrell east of Dallas in 2008--one of several small facilities he owned in Texas.

Mahmood has focused on acquiring smaller facilities in financial distress. In 2007, he acquired Lake Whitney Medical Center in Hillsboro, Texas, 65 miles south of Dallas, for just $600,000, according to the Hillsboro Reporter. Altogether, he owns six hospitals, mostly in the 180-mile-long corridor between Dallas and Austin.

But almost as soon as Mahmood took over the Renaissance Hospital, he began redacting patient records, often adding ailments they did not suffer from in order to boost billings, according to the Morning News. An emergency room doctor, nurses and other members of the medical staff were also improperly supervised.

The Morning News reported that Mahmood's lax oversight at Renaissance Hospital led to at least three patient deaths. He was charged in April with fraudulently billing Medicare at least $1.1 million, part of an eight-count federal indictment. The hospital was shut down last February for failure to pay property taxes. Mahmood may also shut down Lake Whitney Medical Center soon, according to the Reporter.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cut off funding for another of Mahmood's hospitals, Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center, 185 miles southeast of Dallas. The action was taken after a patient rushed to the facility never received care, according to the Morning News.

Editor's note: Due to a reporting error, the original version of this story mis-identified the hospital that CMS cut funding to last week. 

To learn more:
- read the Morning News article (subscription required)
- check out the Reporter article

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Editor's Note: A previous version of this article said another facility owned by Dr. Mahmood, Central Texas Hospital, had its Medicare funding cut off from CMS. Fierce Health Finance regrets the error.