Tennessee cardiologist accused of fraud, under investigation

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into accusations leveled against cardiologist Dr. Elie Hage Korban and two Tennessee hospitals, alleging that they ran a scheme to defraud government insurance programs through overuse of medical services.

The accuser is fellow Tennessee cardiologist Dr. Wood Deming, who claims Korban falsely dictated symptoms in heart patients to authorize medical procedures for reimbursement by government programs.

Deming also points the finger at executives at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and the Regional Hospital of Jackson as well as radiologist Dr. Joel Perchik for condoning or abetting Korban’s alleged fraud and for engaging in kick-back schemes.

The whistleblower claims hospital executives allowed Korban to order unnecessary diagnostic studies at the hospitals where the patients were then transported for additional unnecessary procedures, Heartwire reported.

Deming further alleges that the hospitals’ leadership attacked physicians who tried to oppose the scheme, giving them bad-faith peer reviews leading to their elimination from the medical staff.

The investigation joins other cases surrounding overuse of stenting. In January 2010 the Baltimore-based St. Joseph Medical Center notified 369 patients who received coronary stents under the care of Dr. Mark Midei that the implants may not have been needed, which resulted in a class action lawsuit.

St. Joseph’s settled without admitting guilt in November of last year, paying a fine of $22 million.

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