Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Facility Agrees to Pay the United States Over $400,000 to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
Baltimore, Maryland – HyperHeal Hyperbarics, Inc. (“HyperHeal”) has agreed to pay $414,640.25 to settle claims that it submitted false claims to the United States for physician services that were not rendered and for medically unnecessary hyperbaric oxygen therapy. HyperHeal is a hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility that provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy to patients at multiple locations in Maryland.
The settlement was announced today by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Robert Craig, Special Agent in Charge for the Defense Criminal Investigative Services, Mid-Atlantic Division.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland is committed to thoroughly investigating claims of fraud and holding health care providers accountable when they subject their patients to unnecessary medical treatment and waste taxpayer dollars.” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.
According to the settlement agreement, the United States contends that from March 2013 to November 2014, HyperHeal submitted claims for one patient to TRICARE for hyperbaric oxygen therapy as if that therapy were supervised by a physician when, in fact, no physician supervised the therapy. HyperHeal, through its former president and part-owner, Eric Shapiro, prepared bills indicating that the therapy was supervised by a physician when it was not supervised by a physician. During the same time period and for the same patient, HyperHeal submitted claims to TRICARE for medically unnecessary hyperbaric oxygen therapy. No qualified medical professional evaluated the patient’s condition throughout the treatment. Instead, Shapiro, who was a hyperbaric oxygen therapy technician, directed the patient’s treatment and obtained authorization for continued treatment by sending misleading documents to TRICARE.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by whistleblowers, Lesa Schrum and Juliette Skelton, who are former employees of HyperHeal. The lawsuit, which was filed in the District of Maryland in 2016, alleges that HyperHeal and Shaprio submitted or caused the submission of false claims to the United States for hyperbaric oxygen therapy services that were not medically necessary, for hyperbaric oxygen therapy services that were not properly supervised by a physician, and for hyperbaric treatment which was not provided. As part of the settlement, the whistleblowers will receive $74,635.25.
The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only. The settlement is not an admission of liability by HyperHeal, nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well founded.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the Defense Criminal Investigative Service for its investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew P. Phelps and Roann Nichols, who handled the case.
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