Missouri University dean retires after radiology billing fraud scandal

The dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine is stepping down from his post after the university health system fired two radiologists believed to have committed Medicare fraud.

Medical school dean Robert Churchill, who has worked for the university for 25 years, will retire in October, MU Health System announced Friday, the Associated Press reported. Although he is not suspected of wrong-doing, Churchill is credited with hiring one of the accused radiologists despite his criminal history, Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

After the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City informed the health system of a federal investigation, an MU Health System internal investigation last year revealed that two radiology professors, Kenneth Rall and Michael Richards, were involved in defrauding Medicare, according to the AP.

Rall in 1986 was charged with embezzling money and accused of Medicaid fraud. Days before the trial, though, the overseeing assistant prosecutor said he lost the evidence, according to Columbia Daily Tribune. Churchill was responsible for hiring Rall in 1998.

The two radiologists allegedly falsely said they reviewed X-rays when residents actually did, noted the AP. According to Medicare rules, an attending radiologist must review the image to ensure payment.

"We believe that two radiologists violated Medicare and hospital rules by claiming that they had performed services that were actually performed only by radiology residents," Vice Chancellor Harold A. Williamson, Jr., of the University of Missouri Health System said, KBIA 91.3 reported.

Officials at the school have not disclosed how much Medicare money was involved or how long the fraud lasted, but the school noted that patient care was not compromised, as no unnecessary tests were ordered.

The MU department of radiology said it will change the way physicians view and report on patient images and implement software upgrades to provide additional protections, according to Columbia Daily Tribune.

For more information:
- see the Columbia Daily Tribune article
- read the AP article
- here's the KBLA 91.3 article

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