Lawyers seek to dismiss kickback case against former Sanford Health spine surgeon

Eric Oliver -   Print  |

Lawyers for a Sioux Falls, S.D., spine surgeon are seeking to dismiss a case on the grounds that the surgeon did not violate anti-kickback laws when he used devices from two companies he owned, the Argus Leader reports.

What you should know:

1. The U.S. Department of Justice filed an anti-kickback case against former Sioux Falls-based Sanford Health spine surgeon Wilson Asfora, MD, accusing him of using implants he had a financial stake in.

2. Lawyers for Dr. Asfora argued that because the "alleged kickback-giver and kickback-receiver are one and the same," Dr. Asfora did not violate anti-kickback laws. The lawyers also noted that Dr. Asfora beat a previous whistleblower case, and although he paid a more than $600,000 fine, the government did not believe he had an illegal arrangement with device companies.

3. The case was originally filed by two of Dr. Asfora's colleagues and was unsealed when the DOJ joined the case. The colleagues alleged Sanford Health bought devices from one of Dr. Asfora's companies at inflated prices, and that Dr. Asfora began performing more surgeries after the FDA approved a device he developed and sold through one of the companies..

4. Sanford Health fired Dr. Asfora in August 2019, after initially siding with him when the case was filed. Sanford then reached a $20 million settlement with the government and agreed to submit annual audits for the next five years to dismiss the related-charges.

More articles on spine surgery:
Spinal fusion will be performed for 'decades to come': Key thoughts from 4 surgeons
DOJ alleges system paid 'excessive' salaries to keep specialist referrals in network
Challenges facing private practices in spine, and strategies to tackle them

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