Newnan-based Georgia Bone & Joint, Summit Orthopaedic Surgery Center, Southern Crescent Anesthesiology medical group, Sentry Anesthesia Management, as well as certified registered nurse anesthetist David LaGuardia, agreed to pay the federal government $3.2 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act, according to the Department of Justice.
The government alleged Mr. LaGuardia, Sentry and SCA provided a free medical director to Summit Surgery Center to spur fewer procedures in the GBJ office and more at the surgery center. The government also alleged GBJ and Mr. LaGuardia caused improper Medicare billing for non-FDA approved prescription drugs purchased outside the country, according to the DOJ.
“Kickbacks should never play a role in medical decision-making,” said U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak. “It is critical to our healthcare system that patients seeking healthcare know that their providers’ recommendations are based on what is in the patient’s best interests and not influenced by illegal kickbacks or arrangements.”
The civil settlement came as a result of allegations brought under the qui tam, or whistle-blower, provisions of the False Claims Act by Sharon Kopko, former practice administrator for SBJ. The settlement did not determine liability.