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Robert B. Vogel, MD, JD
Retinal Ophthalmologist at Piedmont Eye Center, Lynchburg VA;
Attorney, Overbey Hawkins & Wright, PLLS, Lynchburg, VA;
Adjunct Professor, Humanities and Bioethics, Liberty University School of Medicine, Lynchburg, VA.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the $6 million settlement of kickback allegations against Quest Diagnostics. The original allegations were filed as a qui tam whistleblower False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against Berkeley HeartLab, which was acquired by Quest in 2011.
The allegations against Berkeley centered on payment of “billing and handling” fees to physicians that referred their patients to the Berkeley labs. The complaint also alleged that Berkeley was routinely waiving copayments, amounting to kickbacks to physicians and patients who might have chosen another laboratory without this practice. The result of these activities was the billing of unnecessary tests to the government, a violation of the FCA.
This settlement is part of a larger effort by the DOJ centered on blood testing laboratories. In April 2015, the DOJ settled similar claims against Health Diagnostics Laboratory (HDL) and Singulex, resulting in a settlement of $48.5 million.