21 Jun Avoid What Federal Prosecutors Call a “Kickback Scheme”
Surgeons that became victims of kickback schemes have come out to share their experiences so that other healthcare professionals can learn from their mistakes and avoid all of the trouble. There are many ways that professional surgeons can perform acts that go against the law, both knowingly and unknowingly. In a recent incident, two orthopedic surgeons were involved in unlawful financial practices and arrangements, assuming they were within legal bounds.
The federal prosecutor described this as a kickback scheme. The culprits responsible for conducting this entire scheme were the owners of the Pacific Hospital in California. One of the surgeons describes that he had signed an agreement with the hospital to work as a managerial representative in 1998. After the change in ownership, the new owners continued the surgeon’s agreement.
In 2013, the US Attorney’s office performed an investigation in which the hospital was found guilty of illegal fee markups. In 2018, Dr. Capen, a surgeon working at the hospital, was also found guilty of playing a role in the scheme, facing 14 months in prison, probation release in 2021, and the suspension of his medical license and $8 million in legal fees.
Nature Of Kickbacks
Like Dr. Capen, many other orthopedic surgeons have come under the shackles of prison by getting trapped in the kickback scheme. Kickbacks of this nature involve incentives for surgeons that prescribe patients additional treatments and tests, such as hot and cold therapy machines, electromyography, and more.
Usually, these kickbacks come to fruition when a bribe sets up a management system that exceeds the current income of the surgeon. Similarly, there are other ways bribers can work their way around skimming illicit means from the billions they accumulate in value that flow back and forth into the healthcare system.
Being Aware is Important
These illegal undertakings are often nuanced and disguised under the shadow of legitimacy. This is why surgeons are often unaware of their repercussions and are willing to settle for them, thinking they are simply exploiting a loophole in the system. However, it is essential to realize that there is no gray area within the system. Prosecutors will often refer to themselves as cooperators in criminal investigative settings, primarily because they want to avoid federal sanctions for criminal involvement.
It is essential to note the federal authorities will penalize surgeons and healthcare practitioners for kickback schemes regardless of whether they intend to indulge in unlawful earnings. Therefore, it is essential for them to be aware of different healthcare frauds and always consult professionals before settling into any cutback and referral agreements by a third party.