Intra-Operative Monitoring Company Agrees To Pay $550,000 To Settle False Claims Act Claims
PHILADELPHIA – Marshfield Medical, Inc., formerly known as Bromedicon, Inc. (“Bromedicon”), has agreed to pay $550,000 to settle allegations under the False Claims Act that it submitted false claims to Medicare and other federal health care programs for failing to provide a qualified interpreting physician to monitor each surgery for which it purportedly provided remote Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring (“IONM”).
Bromedicon was in the business of providing real-time remote IONM during certain surgeries, such as brain and spinal surgeries. In IONM, a qualified interpreting physician in a remote location monitors the integrity of neural structures during surgery via a live data stream transmitted from electrodes on the patient. IONM is intended to reduce the likelihood of unintended damage to those structures and provide guidance to the surgeon during surgery. The qualified interpreting physician is in live contact with a technician in the operating room throughout the surgery so that relevant findings can be communicated to the surgeon in real time. Medicare rules require that the qualified interpreting physician is licensed to practice medicine.
In numerous cases between 2011 and 2015, Bromedicon failed to provide a qualified interpreting physician to monitor surgeries for which it purportedly provided remote IONM services. In some of those cases, no one monitored the data stream from the surgeries. In others, Bromedicon’s medical director, a foreign medical school graduate with no license to practice medicine in the United States, was the only monitor. Bromedicon violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims for reimbursement for these IONM services as though one of the licensed physicians employed by Bromedicon performed them.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. “We thank the whistleblower in this case. Information from citizens can be invaluable in detecting and combatting fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and U.S. Office of Personnel Management Office of the Inspector General. For the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the investigation and settlement were handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Crutchlow and Auditor Dawn Wiggins.