Premier Vein Centers Settles False Claims Act Allegations

Dr. Ravi Sharma has agreed to resolve allegations that he and his clinics, Premier Vein Centers, violated the False Claims Act by knowingly billing Medicare for services and visits performed by unqualified personnel according to a DoJ press release.  Patti Lovell, Sharma’s former office manager, filed a lawsuit under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act in 2012.  Lovell alleged that between 2009 and 2010, Sharma instructed his office manager to perform varicose vein injections on patients when he was not in the office and performed unnecessary vein injections and associated ultrasound imaging procedures.  Lovell further alleged that during the same time period, Sharma operated a weight loss clinic, Life’s New Image, where Sharma had unqualified personnel see patients though he billed Medicare for physician visits.  “Vein injections and other invasive procedures should be performed by appropriately qualified personnel,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “We will not tolerate those who put patients’ health at risk for their personal gain and convenience.” 

In order to resolve the allegations, Sharma has agreed to pay $400,000 and has entered into a three-year Integrity Agreement requiring him to attend training courses provided by CMS and providing for an independent external review of his billing and coding procedures.  Lovell will receive $72,000 as her part of the recovery.

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