Hospital settles cardiologists’ whistleblower suit for $21.75M

A whistleblower lawsuit filed by three cardiologists against a hospital in Texas ended in a $21.75 million settlement. The Department of Justice (DoJ), which took over the case, charged the hospital with improperly compensating cardiologists.

The DoJ claimed that Citizens Medical Center in Victoria had violated the False Claims Act by compensating several cardiologists above market value and paid bonuses to emergency room physicians for referrals.

The case was initiated by three cardiologists— Dakshesh “Kumar” Parikh, MD, Harish Chandna, MD, and Ajay Gaalla, MD—who will receive almost $6 million as part of the DoJ settlement.

The three cardiologists had filed another lawsuit against Citizens Medical Center in 2011, alleging they were being discriminated against by the county-owned hospital for their ethnicity. The three doctors are American citizens of Indian decent. The suit said the hospital board closed the department to a group of contracted cardiologists in 2010, denying them privileges. That case was settled in 2012.

The DoJ alleged that Citizens Medical Center engaged in improper financial relationships with cardiologists and provided kickbacks for emergency physicians related to cardiology referrals. The claims remain allegations only and the settlement is not a determination of liability.