Healogics, a company based in Jacksonville, Florida, that handles the management of hospital-based wound care centers around the United States, reached a $22.5 million settlement in a case involving allegations that it knowingly violated the False Claims Act by overbilling Medicare for unnecessary hyperbaric oxygen treatments. The settlement announcement came from the U.S. Justice Department. The resulting award was $4.3 million to be shared among the plaintiffs.
Hyperbaric therapy is used to treat patients with oxygen in a setting that involves increased atmospheric pressure.
Unnecessary treatments for Medicare patients
The allegations at the root of the case came from a lawsuit filed by the former director for research and quality for medical affairs at Healogics, James Wilcox, as well as another lawsuit filed by a pair of doctors and a Healogics program director. All of the lawsuits were filed under the False Claims Act’s whistleblower provisions, which allow people with knowledge of fraud against the government to file legal claims on behalf of the United States and then share in recovery when successful enforcement actions occur.
In the original complaint, doctors Benjamin Van Raalte and Michael Cascio alleged they were instructed to perform medically unnecessary hyperbaric treatments to Medicare patients. John Murtaugh, the former Healogics program director, was pressured to ensure doctors in the wound center performed the unnecessary treatments as instructed.
These types of healthcare whistleblower cases are extremely important, because the government simply cannot catch every instance of fraud or spend the resources necessary to conduct audits at every hospital. Therefore, it is crucial for anyone who has information about healthcare fraud and Medicare overbilling to come forward with that information and take appropriate legal action.
For further guidance on how to proceed with a claim under the False Claims Act, consult a knowledgeable Dallas whistleblower lawyer with Kardell Law Group.