Major Fla. Hospital Chain Investigated For Unnecessary Heart Surgeries

Aug 7, 2012

HCA, the nation’s biggest private hospital chain, is once again under investigation by the federal government—this time for potentially performing unnecessary and dangerous heart procedures to boost profits, mainly in Florida, where the company does about 20 percent of its business. The investigation comes after the company uncovered questionable procedures on its own and apparently failed to report them to regulators or insurers, as required by law.

In 2000, HCA paid out almost $2 billion in fines and reimbursements after settling a Medicare fraud case with the U.S. Department of Justice. Fla. Gov. Rick Scott was the hospital chain CEO at the time the accusations were made, but he stepped down without admitting any wrongdoing. The new investigation goes back to 2002, when, Scott says, he was no longer part of HCA.

When asked about it on Tuesday, he said, “The federal agencies that are looking at it are going to look at anything like that, and I hope they look at it, but I haven’t been involved with that company in 15 years.”

According to the New York Times, which reviewed internal HCA memos, company ethics officers determined doctors still practicing at several Florida hospitals were performing unnecessary heart procedures. On Monday, HCA execs told their investors the justice department is investigating several Florida hospitals, as well as "2 or 3" in other states.