July 13, 2022
The federal government lodged a False Claims Act complaint in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday accusing a Fresenius Medical Care Holdings subsidiary of performing unnecessary vascular procedures on dialysis patients to boost revenues.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York filed a civil complaint in intervention to take the helm of an eight-year-old whistleblower suit alleging fraud at Azura Vascular Care, a chain of outpatient surgery centers owned by dialysis giant Fresenius.
According to the complaint, doctors often refer patients with end-stage kidney disease to vascular centers like Azura for surgeries to clear up vein blockages that can impair dialysis. These procedures include fistulograms, or special x-rays taken by inserting a catheter into the blood vessels, and angioplasties, which expand the vessels via an inflated balloon catheter.
The government alleged that between 2012 and 2018, Azura schemed to increase revenues by scheduling routine follow-up procedures for patients at its nine New York facilities without additional physician referrals.
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“When health care providers take advantage of patients’ trust, the government and taxpayers, all in the name of profit, they should be held accountable,” said Jeanne Markey of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, counsel to the doctors. “We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney for stepping in to lead this nationwide effort.”
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