Owner of X-Ray Company Facing Life in Prison for Health Care Fraud: Two Patient Deaths Involved
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health LawThe owner of a diagnostic imaging company in Maryland is facing life in prison after a federal jury found him guilty on February 17, 2016, of health care fraud. Rafael Chikvashvili, was found guilty of billing Medicare and Medicaid for more than $7.5 million for X-rays that were not analyzed by licensed physicians, which led to the death of two patients. Chikavashvili, who is a mathematician and not a license physician, was the founder, president and CEO of Alpha Diagnostics LLC, a portable diagnostic service provider. The List of Charges.Chikvashvili’s actions at Alpha have serious consequences, and the list of charges reflect that. He was convicted of two counts of health care fraud resulting in death, nine counts of health care fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy, 11 counts of false statements relating to health care matters and two counts of aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). According to prosecutors, during the time of 1997 and 2013, he improperly ordered employees, who weren’t physicians, to interpret X-rays, ultrasounds and cardiologic exams. He then submitted false claims to the government for reimbursement. He also ordered employees to write physician’s exam reports and forged signatures to cover up the improper behavior. As a result, two patients died because tests were improperly analyzed, the DOJ said. The Consequences of Such Improper Behavior. The employees of the company, Alpha, failed to see congestive heart failure in a chest X-ray, which would have led to the patient being transferred to an acute care facility. Because she was improperly diagnosed, she died four days later. Witnesses also testified that the patient would have been able to survive if she had been moved to the correct facility, the DOJ said. The second patient had a chest X-ray before undergoing elective surgery. The Alpha employees failed to detect mild congestive heart failure, which would increase her risk of bleeding during or after surgery. Because of the improper reading and being cleared for surgery, the patient bled significantly and her heart failure worsened. She died six days after her X-ray was improperly read, prosecutors said. In addition to the two life sentences Chikvashvili is facing, he is also facing 10 years for each of the health care fraud counts, 20 years for the wire fraud and conspiracy counts, five years for each count of making a false claim statement and two years for the identity theft counts, the government stated. “The evidence showed that Rafael Chikvashvili failed to provide medical services to patients who needed them, billed for services he did not provide. The jury found that two patients died because their X-rays were not reviewed by a qualified radiologist. Health care fraud has consequences, in money wasted and lives lost.” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. To read more about the crackdown on health care fraud, click here to read a previous blog I wrote. At The Health Law Firm, we have experience with cases such as this. Click here to read a press release for a previous client we represented in which our attorneys succeeded in having the physician dismissed from a six million dollar suit. Comments?Do you think that someone other than a medical professional should be able to run a health clinic? Do you think that Chikvashvili got the punishment he deserves?Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicare Audits, Investigations and other Legal Proceedings.The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.Sources:Kass, Dani. “X-Ray Co. Owner Guilty of $8M Fraud that Led to 2 Deaths.” Law360. (February 18, 2016). Web.McDaniels, Andrea. “Imaging firm owner convicted of contributing to deaths of two patients.” The Baltimore Sun. (February 17, 2016). Web.About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealth Lawfirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.KeyWords: Health care fraud defense lawyer, false claims act defense attorney, submitting false claims to the government, fraudulent reimbursements, health care fraud resulting in death, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutions for healthcare fraud, civil monetary penalties lawyer, Medicare audit defense attorney, Medicare appeal legal, Medicare claims appeals lawyer, Medicare defense attorney, federal administrative complaint defense lawyer, Food & Drug Administration (FDA) audit defense attorney, Medicare appeals lawyer, health care legal counsel, Food & Drug Administration (FDA) inspections of facility, Medicaid audit defense attorney, Medicare investigation defense, health law attorney, Florida health law attorney, The Health Law Firm
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