Manheim Township psychiatrist charged with improperly prescribing drugs, insurance fraud
By Dan Nephin
June 22, 2020
Psychiatrist Bassam El-Borno
A Manheim Township psychiatrist issued prescriptions without properly evaluating patients — and in some cases, without seeing them at all — without following up and billed insurers and Medicaid for visits that didn’t happen, a statewide investigating grand jury found.
The grand jury recommended charges and the state attorney general’s office last week issued charges against Bassam M.A. El-Borno, 64, of the 1000 block of Bluestone Drive. He had a practice at 160 North Pointe Blvd.
For one patient, “El-Borno wrote more than 70 Adderall prescriptions without ever meeting or seeing him and based solely on the man’s wife telling El-Borno on a phone call that she thought her husband could use the drug,” according to a news release from the attorney general’s office.
El-Borno joked to one patient about being a “drug dealer,” and called his patients “addicts,” the release said. when prescribing these medications to patients. El-Borno also billed Medicaid and other insurance for office visits that did not occur.
A message left with El-Borno’s attorney was not immediately returned on Monday. Efforts to find a reliable phone number for El-Borno were unsuccessful. He is free on $25,000 recognizance bail.
Investigators had another psychiatrist review El-Borno’s patient files, interviews and other evidence. The psychiatrist found El-Borno’s prescription of medication “was not done in good faith in the course of professional practice, within the scope of the patient relationship, and in accordance with treatment principles excepted by all reasonable segments of the medical profession.”
“Stopping this doctor from continually prescribing addictive and dangerous medications means we won a battle, but it is not the end of the work we need to do,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “My office will continue to hold individuals accountable who recklessly put the lives of others at risk for profit, wherever those individuals are found.”
Few records found
Investigators said they found only one instance of detailed records. That was associated with an attorney requesting medical records, charging documents state. The records concerned a 4-year-old who was taken by her mother to El-Borno in August 2017 and prescribed various medication. Six months later, the girl was taken to the emergency room because she had a fever, was listless and said she wanted to die. Doctors said she had a condition associated with her medication and told her mother to stop giving them to her.
Besides drug violations, fraud, theft and failing to keep required records, El-Borno is charged with wiretapping. When investigators searched his office, they found information suggesting his prescription practice was being questioned, charging documents said; A July 2019 letter from CVS asked to talk to El-Borno because, “based on our data we have identified that you’re controlled substance prescribing may be outside the normal range in comparison with other prescribers in your specialty and geographic region.”
Investigators said they found a recording El-Borno made of call with CVS pharmacists who were unaware they were being recorded.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, El-Borno has an active medical license. However, investigators said his answering service was advising patients that his office was closed and that he would not be back for a while.