The False Claims Act suit alleges that the defendants billed federal programs including Medicare and Medicaid for the cost of procedures, some of which were “risky and often unnecessary.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday intervened in a lawsuit against Fresenius Vascular Care, which has been accused of performing unnecessary medical procedures on dialysis patients at outpatient facilities in New York.
The False Claims Act suit alleges that the defendants billed federal programs including Medicare and Medicaid for the cost of the procedures, which were described in the intervenors’ complaint as “uncomfortable, time-consuming interventions … unjustified by clinical and other information amassed by patients’ treating physicians and dialysis clinics.”
The “risky and often unnecessary” procedures included fistulagrams, in which a dye was injected into the patient’s blood vessel to visualize the port and surrounding blood vessels, and angioplasties, in which wires and balloons were inserted into narrowed blood vessels to restore blood flow, according to the complaint.
The complaint also alleged that the defendants falsified medical records to inflate the percentage of blockages within the patients’ veins, improperly justifying the procedures.
Many of the patients, who suffered from end-stage renal disease, were “elderly, disadvantaged members of minority groups” already facing multiple comorbidities, according to the complaint.
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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,” Markey said. “We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney for stepping in to lead this nationwide effort.”