WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington Health and a local doctor have settled civil fraud claims that he performed unnecessary procedures and then billed Medicare and Tricare, U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. announced Tuesday.
Dr. Damian Brezinski and the practice group have agreed to pay more than $244,000 to settle claims under the False Claims Act.
Separately, New Hanover Regional Medical Center has agreed to repay nearly $900,000 in facility fees it received due to the alleged false claims.
According to court documents, an investigation began after a self-disclosure by NHRMC. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to say when the hospital submitted the disclosure, saying that information wasn’t public record.
“The hospital reported that an internal audit uncovered potentially false claims for cardiac stenting procedures that Dr. Brezinski performed in that facility," a news release states. "The United States’ independent investigation confirmed that, from 2010 to 2014, Dr. Brezinski repeatedly inserted arterial stents for patients whose medical records did not demonstrate a need for the procedures.”
Brezinski and Wilmington Health then allegedly billed those procedures to Medicare and Tricare, in violation of program requirements and the False Claims Act.
“The United States takes healthcare fraud very seriously,” said Higdon. “Nowhere is that more true than when doctors knowingly perform medical procedures that their patients do not need. The United States will continue to vigorously pursue penalties and damages against health care providers who falsely certify the accuracy of claims they bill to Medicare and Tricare, and in the process risk the health and well being of those under their care.”
Brezinski currently operates a private practice, Island Cardiology, in Carolina Beach. According to its website, Brezinski retired from Wilmington Health in 2016.