$1.75M settlement reached by spine surgeon, DOJ to resolve SpineFrontier kickback allegations


Spine surgeon Jeffrey Carlson, MD, has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Justice $1.75 million to settle allegations that he accepted kickbacks from SpineFrontier.

Dr. Carlson, of Newport News, Va.-based Orthopaedic & Spine Center, is the sixth spine surgeon to settle fraud allegations relating to interactions with the spine device manufacturer.

DOJ in March filed a False Claims Act case against SpineFrontier, alleging the company illegally paid more than $8 million in kickbacks to spine surgeons from October 2013 through December 2018.

SpineFrontier, its executives and a third-party body — Impartial Medical Experts — are accused of paying spine surgeons to use the company's devices and concealing kickbacks as "consulting fees" for product evaluations. 

Kingsley Chin, MD, CEO and founder of SpineFrontier, is the owner of IME, which DOJ alleges is a "sham" entity created to hide the kickbacks from the federal government.

Dr. Carlson is accused of accepting illegal kickbacks from IME and consulting payments from SpineFrontier for time spent during surgeries, which Medicare and other government healthcare programs were already paying him.

Dr. Carlson also admitted to accepting free meals from SpineFrontier for himself and his staff on "almost every day" that he used one of the company's devices, which amounted to thousands of dollars.

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