U.S. Settles Accusations That Doctors Overtreated
A group of doctors who performed unusually high rates of heart procedures on patients at a community hospital in Ohio settled with the Justice Department over accusations that some of the procedures were medically unnecessary, federal regulators announced on Friday.
The settlement covered accusations that the doctors and the hospital, then known as the EMH Regional Medical Center, had billed Medicare for unnecessary medical care from 2001 to 2006. The hospital agreed to pay $3.9 million to settle the accusations, and the physician group, the North Ohio Heart Center, agreed to pay $541,870, according to a Justice Department statement.
Federal regulators had accused the doctors and the hospital of performing unnecessary procedures known as angioplasties, in which a clogged blood vessel is opened. The procedure often requires insertion of a device called a stent to keep the blood vessel from closing again.
Besides the cost to Medicare, “performing medically unnecessary cardiac procedures puts patients’ lives at risk,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, which was involved in the investigation. “Patient health and taxpayer dollars have to come before greed,” he said.