A North Carolina doctor has been convicted of fraud after being caught reusing single-use tools for surgeries hundreds of times, putting patients at risk.
59-year-old Anita Louise Jackson ran three offices of Greater Carolina Ear, Nose and Throat where she re-used single-use devices in order to defraud and mislead patients
Between 2011 and the end of 2017, Jackson used just 36 devices for more than 1,400 of these surgeries for Medicare patients.
The doctor has also been convicted on charges of fabricating medical and healthcare records, mail fraud, conspiracy, and paying illegal remunerations.
Jackson faces up to 40 years in prison based on the maximum terms of each charge and fines over $250,000.
The jury already ordered forfeiture of $4,794,039.31 in Medicare fraud.
Jackson would use Entellus XprESS, an FDA-approved device to perform balloon sinuplasty, which treats chronic sinusitis.
However, the FDA has only approved the device for a single use for each patient before it is meant to be thrown away.
Jackson used only 36 new devices for 1,400 procedures, according to records obtained by Justice Department officials.
“This doctor put profit ahead of patients, luring in Medicare patients with free ‘sinus spas’ and risking infection to those patients by reusing the same single-use surgical devices on them again and again,’ said Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
“If we allow doctors to bilk Medicare to pad their profits by performing unsupported medical procedures — each and every American taxpayer eats the cost. But the harm is most felt by the victim-patients who deserved better, and the elderly Americans on Medicare who are entitled to quality care,” Easley added.
Investigators found Jackson failed to tell patients she was using the ‘adulterated’ device, despite admitting she had more than enough money to buy them for every single patient.
“Jackson’s blatant disregard for her patients’ health has led to her conviction on multiple federal charges,” Easley said.
As the majority of Jackson’s patients were with Medicare, she is accused of using those procedures to bill Medicare over $ 46 million.
“The FDA continues in its commitment to aggressively pursue those who deviate from required standards of use for medical devices,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office.
“We will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect consumers from potentially dangerous products,” Fielder added.
Jackson is also convicted of 10 counts of illegally inducing her patients to have the procedure done by not collecting co-patients, allowing her to trick patients into what they thought was a ‘free’ treatment, The Daily Mail reported.
She is also accused of hiding and writing off he total cost of procedures on any bills sent to patients.
“It is disturbing when fraudsters exploit vulnerable Medicare enrollees and defraud federal health care programs for personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Tamala E. Miles of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
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