March 26, 2013, 4:28 PM
By Russ Britt
The Health and Human Services Inspector General’s office issued a fraud alert Tuesday, warning consumers and medical professionals about physician-owned groups that get kickbacks from medical device companies in exchange for pushing the devices on to patients.
The warning doesn’t name names but says these so-called physician-owned distributorships “produce substantial fraud and abuse risk and pose dangers to patient safety.” In particular, the warning addresses implantable devices used in procedures either at hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.
Of concern is whether patients get inappropriate medical referrals or recommendations influenced by financial incentives. Such practices violate the Social Security Act, which prohibits doctors to recommend devices for any Medicare or Medicaid program where they would get reimbursed. Further, regulators don’t believe disclosure by the doctor is enough, since it’s often used as an added incentive for patients to use a particular product or facility.
You can read the full warning here.
Follow Russ Britt on Twitter @russbrittmktw
Follow Health Exchange blog on Twitter @MWHealthBlog