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Lawsuit, Huge Fine Hit Whole-Body-Scan Chain

August 12, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Medical Ethics, Practice Management
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Heart Check America, the apparently defunct national chain of whole-body-imaging clinics, faces a class-action lawsuit in Las Vegas and a $3.2 million fine in Colorado.

Heart Check America’s former Web site has been promising that a new entity called Health Screening Plus, “operated by board certified radiologists,” will replace it and honor its contracts. But an early August target for the arrival of a new Health Screening Plus Web site has come and gone with no site up so far.

We’ve covered the chain’s regulatory and legal problems earlier, in May and June—as well as the dubious utility of full-body scans for patients without symptoms of illness.

Late last week, lead plaintiff Kenneth Barth filed a class-action lawsuit in Las Vegas charging Heart Check America with deceptive trade practices. According to the Las Vegas Sun newspaper, the suit alleges that Barth and others were induced to sign 10-year, $3,995 medical-services contracts financed by Chase Bank USA.

The contracts covered one full-body scan per year plus individual scans of the heart, lungs, and pelvis. What they failed to mention, the suit says, is that Nevada law allows such imaging only after a referral from an authorized medical practitioner, and only for specific radiological studies on specific portions of the body. That omission, the suit claims, constitutes a deceptive trade practice.

The suit says that Barth can’t get his scans because Heart Check America has closed. It adds:

However, plaintiff continues to make payments to Chase Bank for the financing of the long-term medical services contract he entered into. Defendant Heart Check America breached its contract with the plaintiff.

Heart Check America hasn’t responded to the lawsuit and couldn’t be reached for comment, the Sun said.

This week, the X-Ray Certification Unit of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment hit Heart Check America with the largest fine it has ever imposed. HealthImaging.com reported that the X-Ray Certification Unit cited nine violations involving supervision, referral, and safety procedures, among other things.

Brian Vamvakias, leader of the X-Ray Certification Unit, said:

When we contacted Heart Check America in April, we gave them an opportunity to correct their violations. They stopped all communication with us, and we were left with no choice but to proceed with escalated enforcement and assess these penalties.

Most likely, we have not seen the last of this saga, but have seen the last of Heart Check America—and of Health Screening Plus, for that matter. Good riddance.

Related seminar: Computed Body Tomography: The Cutting Edge


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