21st Century Oncology Settles False Claims for $34.7M; Whistleblower to Get $7M

Posted: 03/11/2016  browse the blog archive
21st Century Oncology Settles False Claims for $34.7M; Whistleblower to Get $7M

21st Century Oncology Inc., the nation’s largest physician led integrated cancer care provider and its wholly owned subsidiary South Florida Radiation Oncology LLC, has agreed to pay $34.7 million to the federal government to settle allegations that the company knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false claims for procedures that were not medically necessary, the U.S. Department of Justice announced earlier this week.

The settlement relates to defendants use of a medical procedure – called the Gamma function – to measure the exit dose of radiation from a patient after receiving radiation treatment.  The United States alleged that the defendants knowingly and improperly billed for this procedure under circumstances where the procedure served no medically appropriate purpose.  For example, the government alleged that the procedure was performed by physicians and physicists at 21st Century Oncology locations who were not properly trained to interpret and utilize the Gamma function results.  The government also alleged that the defendants billed for this procedure when no physician reviewed the Gamma function results until seven or more days after the last day patients received radiation treatment therapy.  Finally, the government alleged that the defendants billed for the procedure when no Gamma result was available due to technical failures in the imaging equipment. 

This lawsuit was originally filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Joseph Ting, a former physicist at South Florida Radiation Oncology.  Under those provisions, a private party, known as a relator, can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the recovery.  Ting will receive more than $7 million. 

This past December, 21st Century Oncology LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of 21st Century Oncology Inc., paid $19.75 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by billing for medically unnecessary laboratory urine tests and for encouraging physicians to order these tests by offering bonuses based in part on the number of tests the physicians referred to its laboratory. 

The Chanler Group, in association with the Hirst Law Group, represents whistleblowers who take action under the False Claims Act to report fraud committed against the federal and state governments.  We have years of experience representing whistleblower clients who expose every kind of fraud against the government, including health care fraud, contract fraud, and tax fraud.  Read more about our expertise in False Claims Act cases and how you can take action.