As the Allegiant Experts Blog has highlighted over the past several years, many medical professionals have been taken to court to fend off allegations of health care fraud. As our blog has reported, the majority of these individuals end up facing severe prison sentences. In some cases, however, perpetrators of fraud admit to their wrongdoings and avoid potential losses of freedom. Agreeing to a settlement is one way to escape hard time.
This is the route that Dr. Damian Brezinski took this week. The Wilmington, North Carolina cardiologist settled civil fraud claims under the False Claims Act and agreed to pay more than $244,000. As reported by WECT.com, Dr. Brezinski was alleged to have performed unnecessary procedures and then billed Medicare and Tricare to have the costs covered.
Wilmington Health has also accepted responsibility.
According to WECT, Brezinski, and Wilmington Health, the medical practice where he worked, were both in violation of program requirements and the False Claims Act.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center has also agreed to repay nearly $900,000 in facility fees it received due to the alleged false claims, says the WECT report. “According to court documents, an investigation began after a self-disclosure by NHRMC,” the report reads, “A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to say when the hospital submitted the disclosure, saying that information wasn’t public record.”
An internal audit found that Brezinski was up to something.
The investigation found that he was submitting potentially false claims for cardiac stenting procedures. It confirmed that between 2010 and 2014, the cardiologist “repeatedly inserted arterial stents for patients whose medical records did not demonstrate a need for the procedures.” U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. made the announcement about the settlement this past Tuesday.
“The United States takes healthcare fraud very seriously,” WECT quotes him as saying, “Nowhere is that more true than when doctors knowingly perform medical procedures that their patients do not need. The United States will continue to vigorously pursue penalties and damages against health care providers who falsely certify the accuracy of claims they bill to Medicare and Tricare, and in the process risk the health and well being of those under their care.”
Dr. Brezinski is still practicing.
According to WECT, Brezinski currently operates a private practice, called Island Cardiology, in Carolina Beach. He apparently retired from Wilmington Health in 2016. His ability to continue practicing is a benefit of his decision to settle outside of court.
As the United States Department of Justice report about this matter states: “It should be noted that the claims resolved by settlement here are allegations only, and that there has been no judicial determination or admission of liability.”
Are you an attorney who is currently trying a health care fraud case?
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