Expert testifies for defense in doctor’s trial

The defense for Dr. Jorge Zamora Quezada, the rheumatologist charged with healthcare fraud, began their case Tuesday with an expert witness who testified about the appropriateness of the doctor’s diagnoses.

Bruce Freundlich, a rheumatologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed the records of Zamora Quezada’s patients from their visits with him as well as records from their visits with other doctors.

Zamora Quezada, a rheumatologist based in Edinburg, is accused of participating in a scheme to defraud health insurers by misdiagnosing and over-treating patients.

The three co-defendants in the case are his wife, Meisy Zamora, and two of their employees, Estella Santos Natera and Felix Ramos. They are accused of also participating in the scheme which allegedly included tampering with medical records and money laundering to conceal the source of the funds they made from the alleged scheme.

From reviewing the records of all 29 patients listed in the indictment, Freundlich testified that he believed Zamora Quezada’s diagnosis and treatment was appropriate for those patients and, in some cases, said Zamora Quezada was conservative in his treatment.

When asked by the defense attorney, Trey Martinez, Freundlich said he had seen zero evidence that Zamora Quezada or anyone in his office intentionally misdiagnosed patients.

The prosecutor for the government, Rebecca Ruth Yuan, noted that he did not personally examine any of patients for which he offered an opinion on in his testimony and had not spoken to any of them.

Freundlich also acknowledged that he hadn’t reviewed any of the claims that Zamora Quezada’s clinic submitted to Medicare.

Yuan also noted that he currently doesn’t have a private practice in rheumatology and doesn’t see patients in that setting. The last time he treated patients on a daily basis was in the early 2000s.

However, he does treat patients through volunteer work, though not every day.

When reviewing the patient records, Yuan asked if he took Zamora Quezada’s files as true and accurate to which Freundlich explained that he corroborated those records by reviewing the records of other rheumatologists who examined those same patients.

When asked if his analysis would be impacted if Zamora Quezada’s records contained false information, Freundlich said that it would but thought that was very hypothetical.

However, Yuan pointed out that a medical assistant testified earlier during the trial that he and other medical assistants were the ones that wrote the notes in Zamora Quezada’s files and that they were sometimes written months or years after the patient was seen.

The government will continue their cross examination of Freundlich Wednesday morning.