Elie Korban, a Tennessee cardiologist has agreed to settle a qui tam lawsuit brought by a whistleblower who alleged Korban violated the False Claims Act. The whistleblower alleged that Korban performed unnecessary cardiac procedures on Medicare and Medicaid patients. According to the Justice Department, Korban owns Delta Clinic with locations in Jackson, Tennessee and Lexington, Tennessee. In addition, Korban has physician privileges at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and Regional Hospital of Jackson.
The qui tam lawsuit was initiated in 2007 by Dr. Wood Deming of Jackson-based Regional Cardiology Consultants. In addition to naming Korban as a defendant, the whistleblower’s complaint also named officials at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Regional Hospital of Jackson, and Dr. Joel Perchik of Advanced Radiology as defendants.
The whistleblower alleged that Korban, aided by the other named defendants, ordered unnecessary cardiac tests, performed angioplasty procedures that were not medically necessary, and inserted unnecessary coronary stents. The government alleged that claims for payment submitted to Medicare and Medicaid for the procedures constituted false claims submitted in violation of the False Claims Act. According to the whistleblower, Korban also falsified patients’ test results to make it appear that coronary stents or other cardiac surgery was medically necessary, when it was not.
A coronary stent is a mesh tube that is inserted into a coronary artery that is significantly blocked in order to keep the artery open. According to the whistleblower, a cardiac stent placement procedure typically costs $10,000 or more.
An angioplasty procedure is used to restore blood flow to the heart. The procedure involves the insertion of a thin, flexible tube with a balloon at its tip through a blood vessel to the affected artery. The balloon is then inflated to compress plaque against the artery walls and restore blood flow through the artery.
The Department of Justice’s complaint alleged that Korban placed cardiac stents that were not medically necessary in Medicare and Medicaid patients from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2008 and submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for the unnecessary stents. Korban has agreed to settle those False Claims Act allegations for $1.15 million.
The whistleblower will receive a percentage of the settlement amount as his reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
For more information on what a qui tam action is and how to file a qui tam action click here.