The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced on April 24, 2020 that an orthopedic surgeon from Newport News, Virginia has agreed to pay $1.75 million to resolve allegations that he accepted kickbacks from SpineFrontier, Inc. (“Spinefrontier”), a Massachusetts-based medical device manufacturer. The Virginia orthopedic surgeon (“Dr. Carlson”) is the sixth surgeon who has agreed to settle with the government relating to his interactions with SpineFrontier.
In March 2020, the government filed a False Claims Act complaint against SpineFrontier and its executives, alleging that SpineFrontier paid kickbacks to spine surgeons itself and through a sham third-party entity, Impartial Medical Experts, LLC, which was owned and controlled by SpineFrontier’s founder and CEO, Kingsley R. Chin.
As part of the settlement agreement, the government contended that Dr. Carlson received kickbacks in the form of sham consulting fees that he submitted through Impartial Medical Experts. Dr. Carlson admitted pursuant to the settlement agreement that he estimated his purported consulting hours based on the number of times he used a SpineFrontier product in a given month, as opposed to tracking actual time he spent consulting. Dr. Carlson further admitted that he cannot document the consulting hours he submitted for payment to SpineFrontier and Impartial Medical Experts. In addition, Dr. Carlson sought and received consulting payments from SpineFrontier for time he spent during his surgical procedures, for which Medicare and other federal health care programs were already paying him.
Dr. Carlson also admitted to accepting free meals from SpineFrontier, for himself and his surgical staff, on almost every day that he performed a surgical procedure with a SpineFrontier product. In total, SpineFrontier provided Dr. Carlson and his staff meals that cost thousands of dollars.
In the announcement regarding the settlement, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division stated, “By accepting kickbacks in the form of sham consulting fees, along with thousands of dollars in free meals, Dr. Jeffrey Carlson not only put his own financial well-being ahead of his patients, but he also cheated taxpayers who were footing the bill for his surgical procedures.” United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling stated, “This settlement continues our commitment to ensuring that doctors choose medical products solely on the basis of what is best for the patient, and not what is best for the surgeon’s pockets. For their part, manufacturers must play by the rules and compete on a level playing field. We will investigate any doctor, like Dr. Carlson, who accepts money from a device manufacturer simply for using that company’s products.”
If you have information regarding false claims having been submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, other federal health care programs, or to other federal agencies/programs, and the information is not publically known and no actions have been taken by the government with regard to recovering the false claims, you should promptly consult with a False Claims Act attorney (also known as qui tam attorneys) in your U.S. state who may investigate the basis of your False Claims Act allegations and who may also assist you in bringing a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the United States, if appropriate, for which you may be entitled to receive a portion of the recovery received by the U.S. government.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with qui tam lawyers (False Claims Act lawyers) in your U.S. state who may assist you with a False Claims Act lawsuit.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.