Hospitals To Pay $28 Million To Settle False Spinal Treatment Claims

Spinal Treatment
Dr. Benjamin Warf discusses images of the spine of four-year-old Emma Guarino before an operation to debulk an intraspinal lipoma and untether her spinal cord at Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) - A group of 32 hospitals will pay a total of $28 million to settle allegations that they submitted false claims to Medicare for a type of spinal fracture treatment, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday.

The hospitals, located in 15 states, frequently billed Medicare for inpatient stays following a procedure known as kyphoplasty, a treatment for certain spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, the Justice Department said. The procedure, however, can be performed in many cases on an outpatient basis, the Department said.

Hospitals that agreed to some of the largest penalties in the settlement include Citrus Memorial Health System in Inverness, Florida ($2.6 million), Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, Florida ($2 million), and the Ohio-based Cleveland Clinic ($1.74 million).

Officials at the hospitals were not immediately available to comment.

The Justice Department has now reached settlements with more than 130 hospitals totaling approximately $105 million to resolve allegations that they mischarged Medicare for the spinal fracture procedure.

(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler)

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