Physician Practice Roundup—Dermatology practice to pay $4M in false claims act settlement; Doctor wins primary election in Arizona

Dermatology practice to pay $4M in false claims act settlement

A Florida dermatology practice has agreed to a $4 million settlement to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to obtain millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

The settlement was reached Tuesday with Dermatology Healthcare, LLC, located in Tampa, Robert Norman, D.O., and Carol Norman, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. The dermatology practice allegedly submitted false claims for the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer with superficial radiation therapy.

According to the settlement agreement, the U.S. contends that from January 2011 to December 2016, Dermatology Healthcare failed to adequately supervise the administration of the radiation therapy, up-coded claims for procedures related to that therapy and overused radiation simulations. The settlement brings to a close a lawsuit originally filed by a Palm Beach County dermatologist under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act that permits a private citizen to sue on behalf of the U.S. for false claims. (U.S. Attorney’s office announcement)

New study shows doctors aren't retiring because of EHRs

A soon-to-be published study from researchers at the University of Notre Dame refutes a long-held belief that EHRs are largely to blame for forcing doctors to retire.

Basic EHRs, the study shows, have lengthened the tenure of doctors at hospitals, and advanced EHRs cause physicians to move to other hospitals. But the researchers found no evidence that any doctors have retired because of a new EHR.

"Results suggest that when EHRs create benefits for doctors, such as reducing their workloads or preventing costly errors, their duration of practice increases significantly," Corey Angst, professor of IT, analytics and operations in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, said in a statement. "However, when technologies force doctors to change their routines, there is an obvious exodus, though it’s more pronounced with older doctors, especially specialists, and those who have been disrupted in the past by IT implementations.” (Release)

Doctor wins primary election in Arizona

A doctor who hopes to win a seat in Congress won Tuesday’s primary election in Arizona. David Brill, M.D., won the Democratic nomination for a western Arizona House district. He’ll challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who is currently serving his fourth term.

Brill spent 10 years working as head of primary care at the Veterans Administration. (U.S. News & World Report article)

Former USC doctor accused of sex abuse agrees to license suspension

Former University of Southern California (USC) gynecologist George Tyndall, M.D., who has been accused of sexually abusing hundreds of students, has agreed to a suspension of his medical license.

Tyndall reached an agreement with the Medical Board of California prohibiting him from practicing medicine until the board makes a final decision on the status of his license, board officials said. Tyndall, who resigned last year, faces a police investigation and civil suits filed by more than 340 students against the doctor and USC alleging Tyndall sexually abused them and the university failed to protect them. Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing. (Los Angeles Times article)

Task force draft recommendations urge doctors to focus on depression in pregnant women, new mothers

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new draft recommendations urging doctors to provide or refer pregnant and postpartum women who are at an increased risk of perinatal depression to counseling interventions. The draft recommendation says physicians should screen pregnant women and new mothers to identify those who are at risk of depression so they can be treated.

The task force said it found convincing evidence that counseling interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, are effective in preventing perinatal depression in women at increased risk. The task force is accepting comments on its draft recommendations until Sept. 24 before finalizing its guidance. (USPSTF draft)