Feds Put Physician Group Owners of Medical Device Firms on Alert
March 28—A federal-issued special fraud alert warns the healthcare industry about potential fraud and abuse under physician-owned distributorships (PODs). PODs are physician groups that have ownership in companies that make medical devices that the physicians themselves order for use in procedures they perform.
In the alert, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) says it will closely scrutinize such ventures, which pose dangers to patient safety. The OIG views PODs as inherently suspect under the anti-kickback statute, which makes it a criminal offense to knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit, or receive any remuneration to induce referrals of items or services reimbursable by a federal healthcare program or receive gains from such referrals, the alert states.
The alert outlines several suspect characteristics of a POD arrangement, including physician-owned entities that state or imply they will perform surgeries or refer patients elsewhere if a hospital or an ambulatory surgical center does not purchase devices from the POD.
Publication Date: Thursday, March 28, 2013