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Physiotherapist sentenced on ACC fraud charges

3 August 2005

Physiotherapist sentenced on ACC fraud charges

The Accident Compensation Corporation has wound up a lengthy fraud investigation with the sentencing today of Papakura physiotherapist Hayden Ross Murdoch.

Murdoch was sentenced in the Manukau District Court to 350 hours community work, after the court had taken into account his agreement to pay ACC “a substantial sum” in reparation.

He had pleaded guilty early last month on 22 counts of using a document to obtain pecuniary advantage, one count of using a forged document and one count of forgery. These charges were representative of his claiming practices over a two year period.

In January 2004 an ACC clinical advisor referred the matter of Murdoch’s invoicing to the ACC provider fraud unit. On 3 February 2004, ACC began a fraud inquiry into Murdoch’s invoicing information. The inquiry included an audit of his ACC claim forms and bulk billing schedules, and interviews with some of his patients.

ACC’s database indicated Murdoch was the highest billing physiotherapist in New Zealand to ACC during the 2003 calendar year. ACC also discovered the number of treatments for specific injuries given by Murdoch over the year was significantly higher in a number of instances than the average by his colleagues.

The 22 counts of using a document to obtain pecuniary advantage were brought after it was established that in some cases, Murdoch encouraged patients to write false injury details on forms to ensure that ACC would give cover for treatment costs. In other cases, Murdoch himself wrote false accident particulars on forms which patients had signed but otherwise left blank or only partially completed.

The counts of forgery and using a forged document relate to an occasion in September 2003 when Murdoch completed an ACC claim form in the name, and with the purported signature, of a patient. The form was completed with false accident details and sent to ACC as a means of ensuring continued ACC cover (which was given) for a previous genuine injury.

The head of ACC’s fraud investigation teams, Ernst Le Roux, said Murdoch had agreed to pay $95,000 reparation to ACC.

He said the successful outcome of the case was an object lesson for any health practitioners abusing the system.

Mr Le Roux said ACC purchases more than one billion dollars of health services each year through its Healthwise division, and relies heavily on the honesty of health practitioners to provide accurate invoicing of patient treatments.

“Most are honest and highly ethical in their claiming of ACC funding for their patients,” Mr Le Roux said.

“The very few who choose to fraudulently claim levy payers’ money should take note that they will be vigorously prosecuted when they are detected—and they should never doubt that eventually they will be found out.”

ENDS


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