Justice Department joins lawsuit accusing radiology practice of delivering contrast imaging without supervision

The federal government has decided to join a lawsuit, accusing one Southern California radiology practice of delivering contrast imaging exams without physician supervision.

A whistleblower and the Department of Justice allege that Omega Imaging Inc. violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicare for such care, at imaging facilities that also lacked proper accreditation. Syd Ackerman, a former consultant to the 11-practice provider, first filed suit in 2013, with the DOJ announcing its “partial” intervention Tuesday.

“The department will aggressively pursue unscrupulous healthcare providers who cut corners for profits and jeopardize the health and safety of Medicare beneficiaries,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said in a statement.

Omega—which also goes by the name Health Scan Imaging and Open MRI, according to its website—did not immediately respond to a Radiology Business request for comment Wednesday.

Medicare stipulates that a physician must be present in the office to supervise certain imaging procedures requiring contrast IV, such as CT and MR. The DOJ alleges that the practice ignored these “direct physician supervision” requirements while also shirking accreditation. As a whistleblower, Ackerman stands to collect a share of any recovery, if the feds prevail in court. The False Claims Act gives the government the right to intervene and take over a case from a private party, as it’s doing in this instance, according to the announcement.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered the complaint to be unsealed on May 7, Bloomberg Law first reported Wednesday. The DOJ has declined to pursue a third claim surfaced by Ackerman that Omega Imaging also took part in a kickback scheme.