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Baltimore medical provider sentenced to 10 years over x-ray scheme

The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore medical provider sentenced to 10 years prison over x-ray scheme

The owner of a Owings Mills diagnostic company that allowed unqualified employees to review x-rays, resulting in two patients' deaths, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison and two years supervised release.

Alpha Diagnostics owner Rafael Chikvashvili, 69, of Baltimore, was convicted in February by a federal jury of health care fraud and wire fraud conspiracy charges related to a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid of more than $6 million.

Alpha Diagnostics was a mobile diagnostic services provider that offered x-rays, ultrasound tests and cardiologic exams. The company served patients in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Chikvashvili founded the company in 1993.

The jury found that between 1997 and 2013 Chikvashvili and others at the practice created false radiology reports and submitted claims for exam interpretations that were supposed to have been done by a radiologist, but were instead done by unqualified employees.

Two patients died after their x-rays were misread. In one instance, a patient with congestive heart failure was not admitted for advanced care because Alpha did not detect the condition. The second patient died from blood loss in surgery after Alpha overlooked congestive heart failure in a pre-surgery x-ray.

The firm also submitted claims for services that had not been provided or even ordered by a doctor.

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar ordered Chikvashvili to pay restitution and forfeit money earned through the scheme. The exact amount will be determined at a later date.

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