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.
Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti LLP, a business and litigation law firm with five offices across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, is proud to announce that nineteen of our distinguished attorneys have been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2021 edition. “The legacy of our law firm is the depth of our courtroom… Read more »Read More
Pietragallo partners John Schwab and Jim Kraus will be discussing topics related to federal criminal practice in a four-hour symposium hosted by the Allegheny County Bar Association on Friday, April 24th, 2020. Do you have your first criminal case in Federal Court or do you practice criminal defense and need a refresher on the specifics… Read more »Read More
Nationally-recognized False Claims Act Attorney Pamela C. Brecht will present “The False Claims Act and Dealing with Whistleblowers” at Seton Hall University School of Law on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Ms. Brecht, Chair of the Firm’s Qui Tam & False Claims Act practice, will be co-presenting with Morgan Lewis Partner Meredith S. Auten. For more… Read more »Read More
Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP Partner Pamela Coyle Brecht will present “The False Claims Act Update” at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s (PBI) A Day in Health Law program on October 28, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A Day on Health Law is a one-day, six-hour spin-off of PBI’s annual Health Law Institute. The Health… Read more »Read More