Excela Health coughs up nearly $2M to settle stenting case

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 - Pile of Money

The Western District of Pennsylvania has recovered more than $1.98 million as part of a settlement in the Excela Health in Greensburg, Pa., and Westmoreland Regional Hospital case, according to U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.

The case involved the submission of allegedly false claims for reimbursement to the Medicare program related to medically unnecessary cardiac stenting procedures performed from Jan. 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2011, by two interventional cardiologists, Ehab F. Morcos, MD, and George R. BouSamra, MD, who had cath lab privileges at the hospital. The settlement was reached in July, but Excela was prohibited by the Justice Department from releasing the terms until the government made it public, Jen Miele, vice president of communications and marketing at Excela, told the (Pittsburgh) Tribune-Review.

In addition to the $2 million settlement, the allegedly unnecessary stent insertions also prompted several medical malpractice lawsuits against the two doctors and Excela, pending in Westmoreland County. On March 9, 2011, the Pennsylvania law firm, Caroselli, Beachler, McTiernan & Conboy, filed a class action lawsuit against Excela, parent company of Westmoreland Regional, as well as Morcos and BouSamra, stating that the "two physicians encouraged patients to consent to medically unnecessary cardiac catheterization and stent placement surgery for the financial benefit of the hospital, and that hospital administration failed in its oversight of the physicians." 

In May, Howard P. Grill, MD, medical director of the cardiac cath lab at Excela, spoke with Cardiovascular Business about undergoing the Accreditation for Cardiovascular Excellence (ACE) program, as part of an initiative to ensure the quality of the cath lab.