Modern Medical accused of putting profit over patients
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The owner of a local medical practice is accused of falsifying medical records and using expired and black market medication.
It's a case under investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, regulatory boards and Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
The office on Smoke Ranch Road advertises a modern approach to medicine.
People come for everything from weight loss to anti-aging treatments to sexual dysfunction.
They come to be seen as patients, but former employees say they're seen as dollar signs.
"This isn't individualized care," says former employee Lisa Clarke. "This is a blanket money situation."
"Money's always more important than the patient," echoes medical assistant and former employee Niki Adams.
"It's all about the money," confirms former Modern Medical contractor Beth Petschauer.
The physician's assistant who owns and operates Modern Medical is Angela Lorenzo.
She's not a doctor, but is allowed to practice under a doctor's supervision.
The way she practices is raising red flags.
"Some of the stuff that I'm told is shocking and outrageous," says Attorney Easton Harris. He represents Lisa Clarke who worked as a certified medical assistant at Modern Medical for most of 2011.
Clarke is suing Lorenzo for firing her, alleging Lorenzo did that after learning that she and several other employees blew the whistle to state agencies about what was going on behind Modern Medical's doors.
In addition to the lawsuit, Clarke filed a police report in January saying Lorenzo had someone call and threaten to harm her and her children if she testified before the State Medical Board.
"We tried to go to her," Lisa explains. "That's why we went to the Medical and the Pharmacy Boards was because these patients were being wronged."
Both boards investigated and then filed complaints against Lorenzo, charging her with multiple violations of state law.
The charges are pending hearings that have been scheduled in the coming months.
Among many things, Lorenzo is accused of "dispensing drugs to patients without a physical exam or diagnosis," and possessing black market medication.
The Pharmacy Board discovered Lorenzo had at least one box of black market Juvederm -- a drug used to smooth facial wrinkles.
They directed her to quarantine it pending further investigation.
Clarke's lawsuit says black market Juvederm was used on patients.
"Which scared me to death because I still had to go in and assist in those treatments with patients," she recalls. Darcy: "Not knowing how this was going to affect them?" Lisa: "Yeah. I went out of there crying many times because I was worried for the patients and their safety."
Lorenzo's lawyer says she only bought medication from licensed, state approved distributors and that when a question arose regarding one shipment, the package was forwarded to state regulators without ever being opened or used.
The Pharmacy Board has also charged Lorenzo with illegally selling dangerous drugs to make a profit.
Clarke's lawsuit says Lorenzo injected patients with expired Botox and... "She had been using a single-use vial on multiple patients to reconstitute the Botox," Clarke says.
Darcy: "Where did patient health come into play? Was it all about money?"
Lisa: "It was. It was always about money."
Former employees told the Pharmacy and Medical Boards Lorenzo would order unnecessary lab tests and prescribe expensive supplements to every patient, often double-billing them and their insurance companies.
"The expensive tests, the testosterone pellets, the bottles of B12, this was clearly for money," Lisa says.
Many of Lorenzo's patients are teachers. But Contact 13 confirmed the Teachers Health Trust terminated their contract with Lorenzo and are cooperating with the Medical Board and the Attorney General -- who's investigating claims of insurance fraud.
When insurance companies started denying claims, former employees say Lorenzo would bill patients' credit cards.
"Two days before Christmas, my account was charged for over $1,000, seven different transactions," Lisa explains.
Lisa was both a patient and an employee. She has a statement from late October showing a zero balance.
Metro is investigating her claim of credit card fraud, as well as those filed by multiple other patients.
Some of those cases involve police department employees who were Modern Medical patients.
Contact 13 learned, like the Teachers Health Trust, Metro's insurance also stopped paying Lorenzo's claims.
After that happened, Lorenzo hired Beth Petschauer as an independent contractor to audit Modern Medical's records.
The 22-year veteran of the medical field and certified professional coder says red flags went up right away.
"I saw a consistent pattern of doing what we call in the industry 'upcoding.' In other words, billing for services which were not provided," Beth explains.
Angie Lorenzo refused to go on camera for this story.
Her attorney e-mailed a statement which says, in part, "Modern Medical & Weight Loss is a trusted, successful practice using the industry's highest medical standards. Prior to this, it has never faced a single complaint before the Medical Board. These false claims were initiated by a disgruntled former employee..."
Lorenzo asked for the names of everyone we'd spoken to on the record for this story.
Shortly thereafter, she filed lawsuits against two of them.
The Medical Board says Lorenzo's quest to make as much money as possible from patients and their insurance is documented in her own records.
They expect to prove that in upcoming hearings.
Lorenzo's attorney also had more to say regarding her medication supplier and sent us another statement just this weekend. A portion of it reads, "Miss Lorenzo has a reasonable expectation that her licensed suppliers are comporting with the law in every respect. She is not the police and cannot be expected to regulate an entire industry."
We should note that one of her suppliers is also named in the complaint by the Nevada Board of Pharmacy.
Monday on Action News at 6, Darcy has more on the laundry list of charges the Medical Board has filed.
And, she'll look at where the supervising doctor is in all this.
Here is the complete statement sent over by Lorenzo's attorney:
Angela Lorenzo is not the police. Every ounce of medication used in her practice comes from
longtime, licensed Nevada distributors. Miss Lorenzo has a reasonable expectation that her
licensed suppliers are comporting with the law in every respect; she is not the police and cannot be expected to regulate an entire industry. When a question was raised about one shipment of Botox, Ms. Lorenzo returned it without opening any of the internal packaging and
without using a single drop of medication on any patient. Angela Lorenzo is a single mother
running a small business. Angela Lorenzo is not the police