Parkridge Medical Center has agreed to pay a $16.5 million settlement over alleged violations of the Ethics in Patient Referrals Act, the False Claims Act and other federal and state laws, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
The hospital, which is owned by Hospital Corporation of America, also has a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure its continued compliance with federal health care benefit program requirements, the release states.
The settlement agreement alleges that, in 2007, Parkridge and HCA Physician Services offered financial benefits to a physician group, Diagnostic Associates of Chattanooga, to refer patients to the hospital's facilities, the release stated.
"We will not allow hospitals to provide financial incentives to induce physicians to steer patients their way," said Derrick L. Jackson, special agent in charge of the HHS inspector general's office in Atlanta. "These arrangements can corrupt medical decision-making and may result in unnecessary diagnostic testing and hospital admissions."
Memorial Health Care System recently reached a $1.3 million settlement under the same violations but did not enter a corporate agreement.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.