Cardiologist Accused in $7.2M Overbilling Scheme

Dr. Harold Persaud, a Westlake, Ohio cardiologist has been indicted for performing unnecessary catheterizations, tests, stent insertions and causing unnecessary coronary artery bypass surgeries as part of a scheme to overbill Medicare and other insurers by $7.2 million, of which Medicare and the private insurers paid approximately $1.5 million. The scheme allegedly took place from February 16, 2006, through June 28, 2012. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $93,446 from an account in the name of Harold Persaud and $250,188 from an account in the name of his wife, Roberta.

The 16 count indictment, announced by U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio included one count of health care fraud, 14 counts of making false statements and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from criminal activity.

Allegations

According to the indictment, Dr. Persaud: (1) selected the billing code for each patient and used codes that reflected a service that was more costly than that which was actually performed; (2) performed unnecessary nuclear stress tests; (3) knowingly recorded false results of nuclear stress tests to justify unnecessary cardiac catheterization procedures; (4) falsely recorded the existence and extent of blockage; (5) recorded false symptoms in patient records to justify testing and procedures; (6) inserted cardiac stents in patients who did not have 70 percent or more blockage and who lacked symptoms of blockage; (8) placed a stent in a stenosed artery that already had a functioning bypass; (9) improperly referred patients for coronary artery bypass surgery; and (10) performed medically unnecessary aortograms, renal angiograms, and other procedures and tests.

Other Legal Actions

Dr. Persaud had a private medical practice at 29099 Health Campus Drive in Westlake and had hospital privileges at Fairview Hospital, St. John’s Medical Center and Southwest General Hospital, according to the indictment. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Dr. Persaud has been sued for medical malpractice at least 14 times in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court since 2012. The Plain Dealer also reported on August 29, 2013, that Dr. Persaud sued St. John Medical Center in Westlake, its chief medical officer Dr. Michael Dobrovich and unnamed others for more than $10 million claiming they made false statements about him, defamed his character and interfered with his ability to do business when they accused him of unnecessarily placing stents in the hearts of some of his patients.

Court Appearance

Dr. Persaud pleaded not guilty to the indictment during his initial appearance in U.S. District Court and was ordered to surrender his passport, avoid contact with any potential witnesses, and released on a $25,000 personal bond, according to the Plain Dealer.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.