The U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland has announced that a Baltimore ophthalmologist will pay $1.4 million dollars in fines, after being charged with falsely billing government health programs for unnecessary and excessive laser eye surgery procedures.
John Arthur Kiely, M.D., of Lutherville, Maryland will pay a fine for submitting false claims under the Federal False Claims Act. The doctor has also agreed to a 20 year voluntary exclusion from participating and treating patients in federal healthcare programs.
The settlement was announced by the United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein on March 13, following an investigation that began in July 2013 when the U.S. government filed a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court in Maryland alleging the doctor had been performing unnecessary and excessive laser eye procedures that fell outside of the medical standard of care.
The allegations claim the doctor was performing glaucoma surgery because it was profitable for him, even when the procedure was not necessary.
“Medical advice must be motivated by the patient’s best interest and not by the doctor’s personal financial interest,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in the press release. “The government contended in this case that Dr. John Kiely performed glaucoma surgery because it was profitable for him, even when it was not necessary and not appropriate.”
The allegations in the complaint assert Dr. Kiely performed between 3 and 14 Argon Laser Trabeculoplaties (ALTs) per eye on at least 120 patients. Additionally, records indicate he repeatedly performed Laser Peripheral Iridotomies and Lysis of Adhesion on many of these patients.
According to court documents, one patient, whose name was not disclosed, received 15 trabeculoplasties between August 1998 and April 2004, eventually losing sight in the right eye.
Dr. Kiely primarily practiced and performed these unnecessary procedures at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The medical procedures performed at the Baltimore hospital that were part of the investigation were ALT procedures performed between October 29, 2002 through September 11,2007; Lysis of Adhesions procedures performed between October 29, 2002 through April 14, 2009; and Laser Peripheral Iridotomies performed between November 12, 2002 through September 26, 2006.
The $1.4 million settlement will be paid back to the government from the fraudulent claims to recover Medicare and Medicaid costs, hospital fees, and civil penalties of up to $11,000 for each false claim. Under the False Claims Act, the government is allowed to recover triple the amount of its actual damages suffered from fraudulent claims as well as allowed to assess penalties.
Kiely Case Follows Maryland Heart Stent Scandal
The fine comes just months after a Baltimore County jury determined that Mark Midei, a former cardiologist who worked at St. Joseph Medical Center, performed unnecessary heart stent operations following another government investigation into needless surgical procedures in the Baltimore area.
In 2010, it was determined that nearly 600 patients treated by Dr. Midei may have received heart stent implants when they were not necessary. As a result of the investigation, St. Joseph Hospital settled violations of the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Act, and the Stark Law for $22 million.
Midei has been stripped of his medical license and faces a large number of lawsuits brought by patients who allege they suffered damages as a result of the unnecessary heart procedures.