UPMC Hamot sued for doc kickbacks, Medicare fraud

A cardiologist is suing what is now UPMC Hamot, claiming the Erie, Pa., hospital and physicians allegedly performed unnecessary angioplasty procedures and other surgeries while defrauding Medicare from 2001 to 2005, the Erie Times News reported. Tullio Emanuele, the cardiologist once affiliated with Hamot Medical Center, is accusing the hospital of engaging in sham contracts with Medicor Associates Inc. and its affiliate, Flagship Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery of Erie that amounted to kickbacks in exchange for referrals.

The suit claims that one patient died after undergoing a heart catheterization that he did not need, and another patient died from complications from unnecessary bypass surgery.

"As the result of the fraudulent practices," Emanuele says in the suit, "Medicare overpaid for cardiac and vascular surgical and diagnostic services for its beneficiaries. Those patients were placed at significant and unnecessary risk of harm, and substantial public dollars were wasted."

If it loses the case, UPMC Hamot and the Medicor doctors would have to repay any fraudulent Medicare reimbursements at three times the original cost. Article