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Doctor’s Contract: Bonus For Ultrasound Tests

April 26, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Medical Ethics, Practice Management
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A Florida doctor’s whistleblower lawsuit alleges some nakedly money-oriented patient-care practices at his former employer—and reveals a startling bonus in his employment contract that rewarded him for ordering ultrasound tests.

Manuel Abreu, MD, filed the suit March 29, according to Health News Florida. The suit says he was fired on February 24 for complaining about how patients were treated. He was pressured, the suit says, to add procedures, such as ultrasound tests, for well-insured patients and to cut back on treatment for capitated patients—patients for whom insurers pay a flat fee.

The suit was filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court. It targets All Care Medical Consultants, Dr. Abreu’s former employer. The director, state records show, is Mohammed Yamani, MD. Neither Dr. Yamani nor Dr. Abreu could be reached for comment.

Dr. Abreu, in his lawsuit, says that Dr. Yamani overrode him when he tried to refer capitated patients to specialists or admit them to hospitals, and that Dr. Yamani ordered the use of generic instead of brand-name drugs. Dr. Abreu appended to the suit his employment contract. It says he was to be paid:

  • A base salary of $170,000
  • 60 percent of what the practice collected when he saw patients in a hospital
  • $60 for an office visit for a managed-care or Medicare patient
  • 50 percent for an office visit for fee-for-service patients
  • A $5,000 bonus for keeping hospital stays to an average of no more than three days
  • 25 percent of the proceeds from ultrasound tests he ordered for fee-for-service patients

The legal experts Health News Florida consulted said none of that was unusual—except for the last provision. Jay Wolfson, DrPH, JD, the University of South Florida’s associate vice president for health law, policy, and safety, said:

It’s highly suspicious because it provides an inducement to perform specific diagnostic procedures, giving the doctor a piece of the action. That’s exactly what state and federal anti-fraud guidelines are designed to stop.

If Abreu’s lawsuit leads to the recovery of state or federal funds, he would be entitled to a percentage of the money.

Related seminar: National Diagnostic Imaging Symposium


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