by Dave Muoio | September 8, 2021
The U.S. has filed a whistleblower suit against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, its physician group and a department chair alleging fraudulent billing and surgical practices that threaten patient care, the Department of Justice announced last week.
The case is the product of a two-year investigation into allegations brought by a former UPMC physician under the False Claims Act, the DOJ said.
In it, federal prosecutors allege that James Luketich, M.D., chair of UPMC’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and the organizations knowingly submitted “hundreds” of false claims to government programs since 2015.
“When physicians and other healthcare providers put financial gain above patient well-being and honest billing of government healthcare programs, they violate the basic trust the public extends to medical professionals,” Special Agent in Charge Maureen R. Dixon of the HHS-OIG Philadelphia Regional Office said in a statement.
The feds allege that Luketich would regularly perform and bill for up to three complex surgeries simultaneously, often missing “key and critical” portions of the procedures and leaving patients unnecessarily sedated while moving between operating rooms or attending to other matters.