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Claim Of Unneeded CTs Starts Long Court Slog

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A California radiologist has won a round in a long-running legal battle involving his firing, accusations of unnecessary imaging, a whistle-blower action under the federal False Claims Act, and a defamation lawsuit.

On a separate legal track, he has also lost a round. No final resolution on either track appears imminent.

Scott Driscoll, MD, the radiologist, says the Todd Spencer, M.D. Medical Group unjustly demoted him and then, in April 2010, fired him. Dr. Driscoll says he was fired for complaining that he wasn’t paid for overtime work and that the Medical Group’s billing practices amounted to fraud against Medicare and Medi-Cal (the California Medicaid program). He said the Medical Group performed unnecessary CT scans and billed for each component part of a procedure instead of billing for the entire procedure.

As a result, in 2011, two separate legal cases germinated:

  • Dr. Driscoll filed a federal whistle-blower complaint against Dr. Spencer (also a radiologist) and two hospitals. In December 2013, a U.S. District Court judge threw out that lawsuit. The judge said Dr. Driscoll’s complaint failed to specify the details of the overbilling scheme. Dr. Driscoll is appealing the ruling.
  • Dr. Spencer filed a defamation lawsuit in Madera County [California] Superior Court against Dr. Driscoll.

Dr. Spencer’s lawsuit contained a long list of complaints. Take a deep breath:

It alleges defamation, corporate disparagement, interference with contract, interference with prospective economic advantage, fraud, slander, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

That’s the summary from John O’Brien’s story in Legal Newsline about Dr. Driscoll’s adventures in the court system.

Dr. Driscoll responded to Dr. Spencer’s defamation suit by filing a cross-claim. He said the suit amounted to illegal retaliation against a False Claims Act whistle-blower. He also argued that the case should remain in state court instead of being pulled into county court, as Dr. Spencer’s lawsuit attempted to do.

On January 30, a California appeals court sided with Dr. Driscoll on that one. However, the ruling didn’t end anything. It merely meant that Dr. Driscoll’s claims of retaliation would be heard later in a state court.

Confused? So are we. All we know for sure is that some lawyers are making a lot of money from all this. We’ll try to keep track and let you know what develops.

Related CME seminar (up to 11.25 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): UCSF Abdominal & Pelvic Imaging: CT/MR/US


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