Quest Diagnostics, Teterboro, N.J., will pay about $11.4 million to settle a civil False Claims Act lawsuit filed in 1997 by a former salesman for Quest's predecessor company Unilab Corp. The salesman alleged in a suit in Newark, N.J., federal court that Unilab and two other Quest predecessor companies, Damon Clinical Laboratories and Metpath, billed Medicare for unnecessary tests from 1990 to 1997. The laboratories allegedly automatically billed for certain expensive protein tests when doctors ordered panels of blood tests for cardiac patient evaluations. "We don't think we did anything wrong and strongly disagree with the government's position," a Quest spokesman said. "We settled to put a very old lawsuit behind us. The practices at issue were very common industry practices in the early to mid-'90s." In fact, a nationwide probe of laboratory billing netted the federal government several multimillion-dollar settlements in the mid-1990s. -- by Mark Taylor
Lab chain resolves 7-year-old Medicare billing suit
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