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Ohio doc faces more charges in unneeded surgeries

CINCINNATI (AP) — More charges have been filed against a Cincinnati spine doctor accused of performing unnecessary surgeries in Ohio and Kentucky and billing health care programs millions of dollars, according to court documents released Thursday.

Abubakar Atiq Durrani, 45, had already pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of health care fraud and lying about health care matters filed against him in August. Twenty-six additional charges were filed Wednesday against Durrani, including 11 charges of distributing controlled substances.

Many of the new charges stem from accusations that he signed blank prescriptions filled out by others at his office while he was out of the country.

Durrani's attorneys did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment Thursday.

The indictment alleges that from 2008 through this year, Durrani performed numerous unnecessary spine surgeries through his private practice in the Cincinnati area and in Florence, Ky., often without waiting for results of pain injections or related therapies.

Durrani would lie to patients and tell them that their medical conditions were urgent, that surgery was needed immediately, and "would often tell a patient that there was a risk of paralysis or the head would fall off if the patient was in a car accident because there was almost nothing attaching the head to the patient's body," according to the indictment.

Eric Deters, an attorney representing some of Durrani's patients who are suing the doctor, said in a statement that the new charges "bring Dr. Durrani closer to the justice he deserves."

Durrani's trial is set for Jan. 13.

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