“Yes, I knew the 30-day requirement. I just couldn’t say no,” he said from the witness stand Thursday. “I’m an advocate for my patients.”
He said he performed the sterilizations in contradiction to the requirement to benefit his patients. Often, they had discussed sterilization with doctors who referred them. They told him, he testified, that their insurance would run out if he waited or that they could not get a ride or a babysitter on other dates. Asked during cross examination if he could name which of the patients in the indictments told him that their insurance was running out, Perwaiz could not.
Backdating forms is part of three broad categories of charges against Perwaiz. Prosecutors say he altered medical records to justify unnecessary surgery, often scaring women by mentioning the threat of cancer. They allege he changed due dates so he could induce women into labor on the Saturdays he was operating on other patients at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. And they contend he billed insurers for office medical procedures done with broken equipment.
He is also charged with falsifying his application to health-care providers by omitting a felony conviction for tax fraud in 1996, which resulted in a brief suspension of his license, and failing to admit his loss of privileges at Maryview Hospital in 1983. Perwaiz, 70, has been jailed since his November arrest.
In a full day of testimony, Perwaiz, led by defense lawyer Emily Munn, defended the care he gave to the two dozen patients named in the 61 counts against him. In case after case, she broadcast his medical charts and the form he filed with Chesapeake Regional Medical Center before surgery. The charts were identified by the initials of the women prosecutors charge he operated on unnecessarily — D.B., D.P., A.G., T.D.C., A.F., A.N. S.N., D.B.D — and by their age and the complaints they wrote down, complaints several women who testified previously said were false.
In case after case, Perwaiz explained that the complaints by the women — often pelvic pain, bleeding and cramping — justified his procedures. Often, he said, women asked him to be sterilized. In none of the cases of women named in the indictments, Perwaiz said, did he refer them to other doctors after finding evidence of cancer.
During cross examination by Elizabeth Yusi, an assistant U.S. attorney, Perwaiz said due dates for patients were changed not for his convenience so he would be paid for the deliveries, but because he relied on a “range” of possible dates from several ultrasound examinations. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Chesapeake hospital guidelines advise against inducing labor before 39 weeks without a medical reason, saying it leads to health problems for the baby. Chesapeake Regional Medical Center prohibited inducing labor before 39 weeks without a medical reason.
Perwaiz said his own research indicated no reason for that policy. “There is no difference in immediate morbidity and mortality” he told Yusi. “I find it not understandable that we enforce