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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 11, 2013

Open Mri In Brunswick, Douglas, And Savannah Pays More Than $1.2 Million For False Medicareclaims

Government alleged that MRI procedures were conducted without adequate supervision.

SAVANNAH, GA: Diagnostic Systems, Inc. d/b/a Open MRI of Savannah; Southeast Georgia Open MRI d/b/a Open MRI at Fountain Lake, and Open MRI of Douglas, have agreed to pay the United States $1,273,126 to settle allegations that those facilities submitted false claims to Medicare, Georgia Medicaid, TRICARE, and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP), for certain MRI procedures that were not supervised as required by a physician. A MRI is a common medical imaging technique. With certain MRI procedures, a contrast agent (e.g., dye) may first be injected into a patient to produce a clearer diagnostic picture. The use of contrast, however, could pose significant health risks to a patient. For this reason, under Medicare regulations, MRI procedures with contrast require a physician to be present or immediately available to handle any emergencies that may arise. MRI facilities generally receive a higher rate of reimbursement for procedures that use a contrast agent (as opposed to MRIs without contrast).

The Government alleged that from approximately January 2007 to October 2011, Open MRI facilities in Brunswick, Douglas, and Savannah performed hundreds of MRI procedures using contrast but without any physician supervision. In most instances, only clerical staff and a technician were on site during the procedures. Open MRI then billed various federal health care programs for those unsupervised procedures.United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver said, “Health care providers cannot put profits above patient safety. Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs operate on the honesty of its providers, and this office will actively pursue those who misuse the programs for financial gain.”

“Health care providers must provide beneficiaries adequate physician supervision for services that require such standards,” said Derrick Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in Atlanta. “The OIG will vigorously pursue providers who shortcut Medicare regulations in exchange for profit.”In connection with the settlement, Open MRI also entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the Government which contains provisions intended to ensure the company’s compliance with Medicare regulations in the future.

The civil investigation and settlement were handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, with the assistance of Special Agent Mark Creamer from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Edgar Bueno.

For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney, James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

Updated April 13, 2015