Internist pays $177,686 to settle allegations

BALTIMORE — Noman Thanwy, M.D., an internist in Cambridge, associated with the medical practice known as M.S. Shariff, M.D., P.A., has paid the United States $176,686 to settle allegations that he submitted false claims to the United States for medically unnecessary autonomic nervous function tests and vestibular function tests.

The settlement agreement was announced Dec. 5 by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Maureen Dixon, special agent in charge of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.

In his practice, Dr. Thanwy administered peripheral autonomic nervous function tests and vestibular function tests. Autonomic nervous function disorders are relatively uncommon disorders and tests conducted to determine such disorders should be done only after a clinician suspects an autonomic nervous function disorder.

Furthermore, such tests should be conducted only one time per beneficiary, with the necessary equipment, and only by clinicians with specialized training to administer and interpret these tests. Vestibular function tests are tests of function intended to determine whether there is something wrong with the vestibular portion of the inner ear.

According to the settlement agreement, from Oct. 1, 2015 to May 30, 2019, Dr. Thanwy submitted claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary autonomic nervous function tests. The United States alleged that autonomic nervous function tests were not medically necessary because Dr. Thanwy lacked the necessary equipment or specific training to conduct the tests, the patients did not have an autonomic nervous function disorder before the test was conducted, and Dr. Thanwy only used the tests to monitor patient symptoms, not make any clinical decisions about future patient care.

Further, the United States alleged that the vestibular function tests were not medically necessary, because an evaluation of a patient’s symptoms was not done prior to ordering the tests, nor were the test results used for clinical decision making.

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations. The settlement is not an admission of liability by Dr. Thanwy, nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well founded.

The civil settlement reached by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland arose from an initiative inside the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which involves the use dedicated resources and personnel to review Medicare billing data. The review of that data has enabled the United States Attorney’s Office to identify areas of concern where it appears that billing irregularities may have taken place.

Partnering with the effected agencies, the United States Attorney’s Office has developed the ability to investigate these billing irregularities to determine whether the matter is appropriate for treatment under the False Claims Act.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services for its work in the investigation. Mr. Hur also thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Corcoran and Neil White, who handled the case.

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