Cobb ENT medical group agrees to pay out $1.2M for re-using catheters

A Cobb County medical group has agreed in federal court to pay $1.2 million for re-using sinus catheters and making false claims to Medicare.

Northwest ENT Associates, based in Marietta, allegedly violated the False Claims Act, federal prosecutors said Friday.

It has offices in Marietta, Atlanta, Woodstock, Cartersville and Canton, according to its website. The "ear, nose and throat" group has one specialty surgery center and provides services at four hospitals in Georgia.

Northwest ENT was not immediately available for comment late Friday afternoon.

When the medical offices were treating sinus infections, they would re-use what were supposed to be single-use balloon catheters, according to the prosecutors.

As the feds described, a balloon catheter “is inserted into the patient’s sinus and inflated by the physician to enlarge the sinus cavity.”

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This happened between March 2011 and March 2012.

The company filed claims to Medicare, the armed forces healthcare program and the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plans.

“When healthcare providers take shortcuts in order to increase their financial bottom line, their patients are put at risk and federal funds are diverted from legitimate medical procedures,” U. S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in a news release.

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