An osteopath has been convicted and fined $16,000 after pleading guilty to fraudulently obtaining payments from WorkSafe.
Dr Rodney Rowe - a registered osteopath who trades under the name ‘East St Kilda Sports and Spinal Clinic’ - pleaded guilty to billing WorkSafe at a total cost of $10,089.60 for 184 treatments which were not delivered between March 2009 and June 2010. Some of the services were supposedly delivered on Sundays, public holidays and while two patients were overseas.
WorkSafe became concerned about Dr Rowe’s billing practices after a routine analysis of claims and information from payments.
Dr Rowe faced four charges laid by WorkSafe under the Accident Compensation Act and one of defrauding the Transport Accident Commission of $3970.60. Apart from the $16,000 fine for the WorkSafe fraud charges, he was also fined $5000 in relation to the TAC charge.
In sentencing Dr Rowe yesterday, Magistrate John Lesser said the workers compensation system placed professionals in a privileged position that relied on their integrity. He said that while Dr Rowe had an impeccable work history, these were serious dishonesty offences at a striking level.
Dr Rowe’s lawyer, Marita Altman, argued against the imposition of a conviction, saying it could adversely affect his ability to practice.
WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Injury Support and Service, Len Boehm, said the agency had an obligation to prosecute cases of fraud to protect honest healthcare professionals.
“The vast majority of healthcare professionals who work with injured workers provide vital services, which helps injured people back to work and leading the life they want,” Boehm said.
“However, a case like this one can undermine the work of honest treatment professionals as well as community confidence in the workers compensation system.”
Boehm said accurate record keeping would prevent the personal, professional and commercial impact that a prosecution would bring.