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Kentucky Hospital Settles Claims That Doctors Cracked Chests for Unneeded Heart Surgeries

A southern Kentucky hospital system paid kickbacks to cardiologists to refer patients for chest-cracking bypass surgeries and other cardiac procedures that the patients didn’t need, according to a federal whistle-blower suit that the company settled yesterday.

Saint Joseph Health System of Louisville agreed to pay state and federal governments $16.5 million to settle allegations it paid doctors in London, Ky., to refer patients to Saint Joseph hospitals for unnecessary heart surgeries and procedures. The so-called qui tam suit, filed under seal in 2011 by three cardiologists in Lexington, Ky., and joined by the U.S. Justice Department this month, accused three London-area cardiologists of falsifying patients’ test results to justify sending them to Saint Joseph facilities for at least eight unnecessary bypass surgeries and dozens of unneeded cardiac stents.