RADNOR, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Pennsylvania doctor is under the microscope after a United States Attorney said he and his entities performed unnecessary procedures that increased the risk of leg amputation and billed Medicare more than $6.5 million dollars.
Dr. James McGukin, of Radnor, an interventional radiologist, and his practice entities, are accused of performing these procedures on over 500 patients from January 2016 to December 2019, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jacqueline C. Romero said.
The allegations of unnecessary vascular procedures include unnecessary angioplasty, atherectomy, and the placement of stents, as well as the indiscriminate use of intravenous ultrasound.
These procedures require puncturing the skin and inserting devices into and through the arteries in patients’ legs. As the relevant standards of care indicate, unnecessary invasive vascular procedures may cause harm to patients’ health, including increasing their likelihood of needing future procedures and putting them at greater risk of leg amputations.
“Performing medically unnecessary procedures puts patients at risk and contributes to the soaring costs of health care, especially the invasive vascular procedures alleged in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “As this litigation demonstrates, we are committed to safeguarding federal health care program beneficiaries and protecting public funds.”
In 2015, McGuckin was sanctioned by medical boards and Medicaid programs in Pennsylvania and several other states for improperly performing unnecessary, experimental vascular procedures, including angioplasty and stenting, on hundreds of patients for the purported treatment of Multiple Sclerosis—a non-vascular disease, Romero said.
Second, in 2018, McGuckin signed a False Claims Act settlement as manager/owner of Vascular Access Centers, L.P. (“VAC”) and related entities, which resolved multi-million dollar qui tam lawsuits in the Southern District of New York and Eastern District of Louisiana. In the settlement, McGuckin, on behalf of his entities, admitted that his entities regularly scheduled, performed, and billed for vascular procedures “even though the patients presented without any documented evidence that they exhibited a need for therapies.”
Additionally, in 2019, McGuckin caused VAC to file for bankruptcy in this District—a filing that Bankruptcy Judge Ashely M. Chan found was orchestrated in bad faith. Judge Chan found that McGuckin’s misconduct in connection with the VAC bankruptcy, including making false statements to the Court on behalf of Philadelphia Vascular Institute, LLC, subjected him to sanctions by the Court.
The current False Claims Act case was originally filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties (called relators) to sue on behalf of the government when they discover evidence that defendants have submitted false claims for government funds and to receive a share of any recovery.
If the United States proves that a defendant has knowingly submitted false claims, it is entitled to recover three times the damage that resulted plus a penalty of $13,508 to $27,018 per claim. The False Claims Act also permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, as it did when it filed a notice of intervention in this case on February 28, 2023.
The relator, Dr. Aaron Shiloh, is an interventional radiologist who worked for and with the defendants.
“We sincerely thank the relator in this case. Without people like Dr. Shiloh being willing to shed light on allegations of fraud, preserving government program funds would be far more challenging,” said U.S. Attorney Romero.
The practice-entity defendants are: (1) Peripheral Vascular Institute of Philadelphia, LLC; (2) Main Line Vascular Institute LLC, of King of Prussia, PA; (3) Lehigh Valley Vascular Institute, LLC, of Bethlehem, PA; and (4) PA Vascular Institute, LLC, of East Stroudsburg, PA.
The management-company defendants are Philadelphia Vascular Institute, LLC, and Pennsylvania Vascular Institute, P.C.
All civil claims are allegations only. There has been no determination of civil liability.