In national medical news:

The U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing surgeons who inflate fees and perform medically unnecessary spinal surgeries. The United States DOJ has filed two complaints under the False Claims Act against a Michigan neurosurgeon, spinal implant company Reliance Medical Systems, two Reliance distributorships—Apex Medical Technologies and Kronos Spinal Technologies—and the companies’ owners. The complaints allege that Apex Medical and Kronos Spinal paid physicians to induce them to use Reliance spinal implants in the surgeries they performed. Apex allegedly paid the accused neurosurgeon $438,570 between May 2010 and July 2012, during which time he used Reliance implants in approximately 90 percent of his spinal fusion surgeries. The government also alleges that these payments caused the surgeon in question to perform medically unnecessary or excessive surgeries on certain patients who did not need the spinal implants. Allegedly, Reliance’s owners were recorded telling a potential Kronos investor that Reliance was formed as part of a plan to “get around” the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits such improper payments, and that Reliance pays its physician-investors enough in the first month or two to “put their kids through college.”

Read the full news release from the DOJ here.

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