St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
April 4, 1987
Three doctors get reprimands from state
By Carol Gentry
+++ ExcerptThe Tampa psychiatrists who received reprimands were Drs. Cesar L. Ruiz and Luis O. Byrne.
Ruiz was accused of submitting bills to Medicaid for patient visits he didn’t make. After Medicaid caught the discrepancy, Ruiz was sent through a pretrial intervention program rather than prosecuted in court, according to DPR records.
Ruiz’s attorney, James Alfonso of Tampa, said Ruiz’s secretary mistakenly billed for visits to St. Joseph’s Hospital for 2 1/2 years after Ruiz stopped making Sunday rounds. Ruiz didn’t catch the error because the secretary used a rubber stamp with his signature on all the claims forms, Alfonso said.
He pointed out that as soon as Ruiz heard there was a billing problem, he audited his books and came up with overpayments from Medicare and private insurance companies, as well. Ruiz has paid
$ 47,000 in restitution and fines, Alfonso said.
Some board members showed sympathy for a doctor who sinks in what one called the “quagmire” of paperwork. Others were suspicious, and one called the billing errors “out-and-out fraud.”
The board imposed a reprimand and a $ 1,000 fine, and ordered Ruiz to throw away his rubber stamp.
In the Byrne case, DPR records show, two narcotics addicts duped the psychiatrist into giving them prescriptions for Dilaudid, a painkiller related to morphine. Byrne didn’t know the two were addicts nor that he needed a federal license to run a detoxification program, according to his attorney, Michael Kinney of Tampa.
The board imposed one year of probation, during which Byrne may not prescribe any narcotic drugs; a $ 1,000 fine; a reprimand, and 30 hours of medical courses about drugs.
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