(ORLANDO) — A Florida doctor has been arrested and charged with fraud after state officials said she administered partial doses of vaccines to patients but charged them for the full amount of the vaccine.
Investigators from the Florida Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit also discovered that Orlando-based pediatrician Dr. Ishrat Sohail had allegedly been administering vaccines as part of the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC), which is intended for uninsured patients or patients covered under Medicaid, to those covered by private insurance, according to a press release from the Florida Department of Health.
An estimated 500 patients may have been impacted by Sohail’s alleged fraud and may need to be re-vaccinated, according to the Florida Department of Health, which stressed that partial doses of the vaccines may not provide sufficient protection from “potentially dangerous” diseases that are vaccine-preventable.
“Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the department, if your child received vaccines from Dr. Sohail between 2016 and 2018, you should contact a new primary care provider” to consider re-vaccination], the health department said.
The department also said that there’s a “possibility” that Sohail “did not follow best practices in maintaining the sterility of the vaccines she administered,” and recommended that parents of children who experienced a “severe adverse reaction or infection at the injection site” from any vaccine administered by Sohail or her staff to contact Orange County health officials.
Sohail practiced in a medical suite near Orlando’s Orwin Manor neighborhood, according to a database of Florida hospitals. She is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and went to medical school at the Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences in Jamshoro, Pakistan, according to the database.
The state’s surgeon general, Dr. Celeste Philip, has issued an emergency order to suspend Sohail’s medical license, according to the department.
The Florida Department of Health regularly conducts site visits to providers of the Vaccines for Children Program. During a visit to Sohail’s practice in 2016, investigators determined that she administered two vials of VFC vaccines to non-Medicaid patients and billed private insurance companies, which resulted in Sohail being suspended from the program for two months, according to the department.
After the suspension, Sohail was placed under a corrective action plan, which limited the number of VFC vaccines supplied to her, the health department said.
An additional visit in late January found that partially used single-dose vaccine vials were in the refrigerator, according to the health department.
Sohail was arrested Friday morning and released on $30,000 bond that day, Lt. Dwayne Kvalheim of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News. She has been charged with Medicaid fraud and organized fraud in Orange County, where her practice is located, Kvalheim said.
ABC News could not immediately reach Sohail or a representative for comment.
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