Lafayette (La.) General Medical Center has agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle False Claims Act allegations that the hospital billed federal programs for heart procedures performed by a physician known to be doing medically unnecessary work, the U.S. attorneys office in Lafayette announced.
Federal investigators pursued the information brought to them by cardiologist Christopher Mallavarapu, who told authorities one of his peers was routinely performing unnecessary angiograms, angioplasties and stenting.
The 294-bed hospitals administrators disregarded similar reports relayed by employees and generated by its peer-review process and deliberately failed to address the problem, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Donald Washington.
Physician Mehmoud Patel was indicted on felony fraud charges in February 2006 and has pleaded not guilty. His case has not gone to trial.
Lafayette General board Chairman Bill Fenstermaker said in a written statement that the hospital cooperated with the governments investigation of Patel and has agreed to deem a select number of his procedures performed at our hospital as not meeting our standards. A strenuous process remains in place to continuously review any suspicious or inappropriate actions of our physicians on staff. -- by Gregg Blesch
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