Mark Weinberger, M.D., has been sentenced to seven years in prison for performing unnecessary and even negligent sinus surgeries that did not cure patients’ problems. The famed otolaryngologist led a lavish lifestyle during his prime, but after five years on the run, police caught up to him in the Italian Alps. Medical malpractice defense lawyers in Florida say that the doctor was served with malpractice claims from more than 340 dissatisfied patients.
Weinberger, who billed himself as “The Nose Doctor,” built a successful solo practice, bringing in almost $10 million every year, more than 15 times the average salary for otolaryngologists working in group practices. He had a large client base in Merrillville, Indiana—a city surrounded by steel mills and dirty air. Sinus problems were rampant in the town, and the doctor’s practice employed a staff of 40 to keep up with the demand. Weinberger led a comfortable lifestyle, enjoying annual extravagant vacations on his $4 million yacht, rides from his private chauffeur, and meals at fine restaurants.
In the office, Weinberger performed about 100 procedures a month, and spent less than half an hour working on most patients in surgeries that most doctors claim would take them over two hours. According to the malpractice lawsuits filed against him, patients complained of allergies, sinus congestion, snoring, and headaches. After explaining their symptoms, these patients would then undergo a CT scan, and “The Nose Doctor” would issue a diagnosis of a deviated septum, polyps, or other sinus problems that obstructed the patient’s breathing and nasal passages.
These diagnoses could be fixed, “The Nose Doctor” claimed, with a now outdated procedure—drilling two holes in the maxillary sinuses to stimulate drainage. Although this procedure is faster than others, creating new holes in the nose is risky. Patients experienced mucus recirculation, mucus build-up, and sinusitis following their procedures. Consultation with other doctors revealed that these problems could have been avoided, and the original symptoms cured, often with medication rather than surgery.
Florida medical malpractice defense lawyers say that these fraudulent treatment methods helped Weinberger rake in his high income, but are now costing him in time and money. These lawsuits also led to the doctor’s malpractice charges, and he has been found guilty for the harm that came to his patients. In June, the 50-year-old doctor agreed to pay $55 million to 282 patients in one settlement, and $8 million to 60 patients in a second. He will spend the next several years serving his jail sentence.
Medical insurers take a risk when doctors such as Weinberger seek to make money rather than focus on patient care. Weinberger’s malpractice insurer will be paying an additional $3 million to victims of his medical practice. The extreme circumstances of these medical malpractice lawsuits serve as a lesson for other doctors—to remain professional and caring no matter how much money is being offered.
The medical malpractice defense lawyers at Florida law firm Lubell Rosen represent doctors and medical professionals who are facing lawsuits that have the potential to escalate to criminal charges.