The U.S. department of Justice, Saint Vincent, and UPMC Hamot Hospital agreed on a payment of $1.4 million because of doctors’ negligence and illegal implantation of heart devices in Medicare patients. The department declared that these doctors implanted heart devices in violation of State guidelines.
A research made in 2011 from Duke University revealed how 25% of the 111,707 patients who received cardioverter defibrillator, didn’t show any benefit. After the medical intervention, they normally developed a critical number of post- procedural complications including death.
There are four UMPC hospitals: Hamot, Mercy, Passavant and Presbyterian Shadyside. Saint Vincent Hospital, in Erie, belongs to the Allegheny Health Network. These hospitals were part of the group which implanted cardiac devices in the chest of patients in order to find and treat any harmful heart rhythms.
Negligence and irresponsible practices
The number of hospitals that violated Medicare billing rules in the US, are approximately 457 and now they have reached settlements summing about $258 million because of their negligence and dangerous procedures.
The process with these heart devices started with electric shocks in order to restore the regular heartbeat, after this, patients had to wait periods of ninety days to see the results. During this period of time, doctors made clinical trials revealing that the heartbeat was restored and the expensive and inaccessible defibrillators weren’t required. Nonetheless, these practices were illegal because they didn’t follow the Medicare rules.
About the device and the debts
The cost of these devices is around $25.000, but they cannot be used or implanted without knowing the national guidelines. Saint Vincent and Hamot are two of the 457 hospitals in 43 states that agreed to make payments in 70 settlements. The hospitals implanted the cardiac devices, which treat irregular heart rhythms, in violation of Medicare rules between 2003 and 2010.
Shelly Weiss Friedberg, a spokeswoman for Tenet Healthcare, said the federal investigation of Procedure Coding System (ICD) was related to whether hospitals complied the legal measures.
“The investigation did not question the quality, efficacy or the medical necessity of these procedures […]We are committed to fully complying with all Medicare program requirements and are confident our current compliance program enables us to do so,” said Friedberg in a statement about the goal of the investigation.
Furthermore, UMPC argued that they are fully committed with the research and they also declared that they will do everything to accomplish the Medicare rules.
“The settlement reflects UPMC’s full cooperation with the Department of Justice and UPMC’s commitment to adhering to coverage rules set forth by Medicare. Additionally, UPMC entered into the settlement in the interest of avoiding protracted litigation,” said UPMC in a statement.
Furthermore, the Justice department declared that they will continue with the investigations. Apart from UMPC and Saint Vincent Hospitals, the Hospital Corporation of America, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, agreed to pay $15.8 million and the Association Health of St. Louis, Missouri $14.9 million.