A pair of physicians acted as whistleblowers recently, initiating False Claims Act cases against a neurosurgeon and his two medical device companies.
The whistleblowers received 20 percent of the $4.4 million total recovery under the False Claims Act, and also received separate settlements for cases involving that same neurosurgeon, including one award of $3.4 million.
The defendant was Dr. Wilson Asfora, who was alleged to have profited from an illegal kickback scheme involving a pair of medical device companies he owned. According to the complaint, Dr. Asfora would perform spinal surgeries on patients, using his medical devices in those surgeries that he received from his medical company. His companies would pay him incentives (kickbacks) to use those devices, incentivizing him to perform even more surgeries, including surgeries that were unnecessary.
The complaint states Dr. Asfora also submitted false claims to federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid for performing those unnecessary procedures, further increasing the financial benefit to himself.
According to the plaintiffs, Dr. Asfora’s medical judgment could be deemed compromised by the incentivization involved with the payment of kickbacks for performing surgeries, even those that were not necessary.
Further, the complaint details other kickbacks and direct payments the doctor received from other device companies he had agreements with. One company even allegedly helped him host expensive and extravagant parties at a restaurant he owned.
Healthcare fraud costs the government billions of dollars every year, and in many cases it is only due to the information provided by whistleblowers that its occurrence even is revealed to the authorities. Federal whistleblower protection laws exist to encourage whistleblowers to come forward with unique information to ensure successful enforcement (and to be rewarded themselves for their participation).
For more information about the steps you should take if you become aware of illegal activity or fraud within your company or organization, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group.