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Former Sioux City plastic surgeon order to pay more than $236,000 in damages and penalties

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LANSING, Mich. -- A federal judge on Monday ordered a former Sioux City plastic surgeon to pay more than $236,000 in damages and penalties for filing dozens of fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims when he practiced in Michigan.

Federal attorneys sought the judgment against Adam Smith after he failed to respond to court actions and deadlines to defend himself and his former practice against the claims made in the civil action in a federal court in Michigan. A judge ruled Smith and his former practice in default on Oct. 29.

Adam Smith

Smith

A complaint filed in December 2018 accused Smith of filing 89 fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims totaling more than $64,000 while he practiced from 2011-14 in Traverse City, Michigan, where he operated Borealis Plastic Surgery.

Monday's filing tripled the amount of damages to $193,131 and added an additional $49,500 in statutory penalties. The judge deducted $6,360 that Smith was ordered to pay as restitution in a federal criminal case, bringing the total default judgment to $236,270.

The civil complaint said Smith performed unnecessary surgeries -- in some cases repairing nonexistent injuries --  and billed for procedures he never performed and used incorrect billing codes so that the procedures would qualify for reimbursement from the state and federal health care programs. Smith also was accused of billing for larger or more complex procedures than he performed in order to increase his financial reimbursements.

During a routine review of Smith's patient charts in December 2012, reviewers noted concerns about his documentation and coding and raised the possibility of fraud, setting off a more formal review process. A May 2013 review found that in each case reviewed, documentation did not substantiate the treatment.

Proceedings in the civil case were stayed after Smith was indicted in 2019 on federal criminal charges, also filed in Michigan. Smith pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements and was sentenced in September to three years' probation and a $3,000 fine, plus restitution.

Smith moved to Sioux City in 2014 and was affiliated with Tri-State Specialists before leaving the group in fall 2019.

Smith, who now lives in Minnesota, voluntarily surrendered his Iowa medical license in February to resolve charges of professional incompetency and unethical conduct. The Iowa Medical Board charged him in 2019 with providing inappropriate surgical care to 17 patients and other unprofessional conduct from December 2014 to September 2017. He also surrendered his South Dakota medical license.

Among the terms of Smith's federal probation is that he may not work in any medical field without first informing his probation officer.

Smith still faces at least eight lawsuits in Woodbury County filed by former patients, each of whom alleges that he mishandled their surgeries and/or post-surgical care. A jury found in Smith's favor in a previous lawsuit, and judges have dismissed at least six others.

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