Two doctors who alleged in a lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act that another doctor at a Florida not-for-profit hospital was performing unnecessary cardiac procedures and studies were awarded $2.7 million Wednesday as part of a $12 million settlement.
James A. Burks, MD and James D. Davenport, MD sued South Miami Hospital and a doctor there under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The FCA allows private citizens to bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery.
Drs. Burks and Davenport will split $ 2.7 million from the recovery announced Wednesday.
Burks is a board-certified vascular surgeon. He started working at South Miami Hospital in 2003.
Davenport is a board-certified cardiologist. He was an active member of peer review committees at South Miami Hospital between 2010 and 2014.
Burks and Davenport claimed in their lawsuit “to have personal knowledge of Dr. [John] Dylewski and South Miami Hospital engaging in a number of unnecessary cardiac procedures . . . . for the sole purpose of increasing the amount of physician and hospital reimbursements paid by Medicare and other federally-funded programs,” the DOJ said.
The alleged unnecessary procedures performed on thousands of patients, many of them elderly, included echocardiograms, electrophysiology studies, head upright tilt tests, and cardiac device implants, among others.
South Miami Hospital agreed to pay the United States about $12 million to settle the allegations. The hospital is part of the Baptist Health South Florida network.
Burks and Davenport said in their lawsuit that they complained to executives at South Miami Hospital and Baptist Health about the unneeded procedures. But the hospital executives defended Dr. Dylewski and said “he is an important medical producer at the hospitals,” according to the complaint.
The DOJ said Wednesday’s action settled “allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.”
The case was United States of America ex. rel. James A. Burks, M.D. and James D. Davenport, M.D. v. John R. Dylewski, M.D., et al., Case No. 14-CV-22079 (S.D. Fla.).
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.