By: James W. Kraus
On Friday, the DOJ announced it had reached an agreement with an Ohio health system to settle allegations of violations of the False Claims Act for costs resulting from medically unnecessary procedures performed at one of the system’s hospitals. Under the agreement, Cincinnati-based West Chester Hospital and its parent company, UC Health, will pay $4.1 million to settle claims that West Chester billed the government for medically unnecessary procedures performed by orthopedic surgeon Abubakar Atiq Durrani, M.D
According to the government, the false claims consisted of hospital charges for spine surgeries performed by Dr. Durrani between 2009 and 2013. At the time of the announcement of the settlement, Principal Deputy Assistant AG Benjamin C. Mizer distinguished the responsibility of the hospital from that of the surgeon, saying that “hospitals have the responsibility to ensure that services provided at their facilities are medically necessary and appropriate before they bill federal healthcare programs for those services.”
The government has charged Dr. Durrani criminally, alleging that he intentionally made false claims and false statements in relation to cervical, thoracic and lumbar surgeries. After being arraigned on those criminal charges in 2013, Dr. Durrani reportedly fled to his native Pakistan, and remains a fugitive. The pending criminal charges include several sensational allegations of bogus surgical recommendations made by Dr. Durrani to patients. This included allegations that Dr. Durrani falsely informed patients that their conditions were surgical emergencies when they were not, and going further in some instances by telling patients they were at risk for paralysis or that a patient’s head would fall off if the patient were in a car accident because there was nearly nothing holding it on.
Dr. Durrani is also the subject of more than 250 civil malpractice claims by former patients, including one that went to trial shortly after Durrani fled the country and resulted in a judgment in the amount of $750,000. Another such case went to trial in 2014 and actually resulted in a verdict in his favor. The hospital has denied allegations by many of the plaintiffs that it was at fault for failing to scrutinize Dr. Durrani’s credentials, which some plaintiffs allege were falsified.
James W. Kraus, of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP, has been selected as the recipient of the DRI’s Albert H. Parnell Outstanding Program Chair Award which will be presented during the DRI Annual Meeting on October 17 in Chicago, Illinois. This award honors a program chair who created a dynamic educational program enhancing… Read more »Read More
James W. Kraus has been appointed to serve as the Chair of the Directors and Officers Coverage Subcommittee of the Defense Research Institute’s (DRI) Government Enforcement and Corporate Compliance Committee (GECC). DRI is the largest international membership organization of attorneys defending the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. The GECC provides opportunities for education… Read more »Read More
The Pietragallo Law Firm and S-E-A Limited are co-hosting an event on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 titled, “Defending Trucking and Vehicle Cases in the 21st Century.” During this dynamic event which begins at 11:30am, industry leaders will review a variety of topics unique to the trucking industry including: “Accident Reconstruction through 21st Century Visualization” and… Read more »Read More
On Thursday, February 20, Pietragallo Partner Jim Marrion will sit on a panel about the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. During this three-hour CLE, offered through the Allegheny County Bar Association, panelists will discuss, in-depth, the issues under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law that attorneys need to be aware… Read more »Read More