January 25, 2016

October 30, 2015

The Department of Justice reached 70 settlements involving 457 hospitals in 43 states for more than $250 million related to cardiac devices implanted in Medicare patients in violation of Medicare coverage requirements.  The devices, called implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), are electronic devices implanted near and connected to the heart to detect and treat chaotic, extremely fast, life-threatening heart rhythms, called fibrillations, by delivering a shock to the heart, restoring the heart’s normal rhythm.  Only patients with certain clinical characteristics and risk factors qualify for an ICD covered by Medicare.  According to the government, from 2003 to 2010 each of the settling hospitals implanted ICDs during periods prohibited by the Medicare’s National Coverage Determination.  Most of the settlements originated from allegations first raised in a whistleblower lawsuit brought under the qui tamprovisions of the False Claims Act by Leatrice Ford Richards, a cardiac nurse, and Thomas Schuhmann, a health care reimbursement consultant.  They have so far received a combined whistleblower award of more than $38 million from the settlements.  The Department of Justice is continuing to investigate additional hospitals and health systems.  DOJ

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