Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, Lafayette, La., will pay $3.8 million to settle civil False Claims Act allegations that the 264-bed hospital allowed a cardiologist to bill for unnecessary angiograms, angioplasties and other procedures and financially benefited from doing so. The cardiologist, Mehmood Patel, is scheduled to go to trial in March 2007 on criminal Medicare fraud charges. He has pleaded not guilty. The whistle-blower, physician Christopher Mallavarapu, will receive $760,000 of the civil settlement. According to the complaint, Mallavarapu said he reported his concerns to hospital officials and was told they would take no action. Lourdes' president and chief executive officer, W.F. "Bud" Barrow, said in a statement that the hospital suspended Patel's privileges after investigating questionable practices and reported its concerns to HHS' inspector general's office and the U.S. attorney's office. Lourdes signed a five-year corporate integrity agreement as part of the settlement but didn't admit wrongdoing. At deadline, Patel could not be reached for comment.
La. hospital settles case alleging unnecessary care
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