Colo. cheque América del corazón de las multas $3.2 millones

por Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | August 08, 2011
Colorado health officials said Monday they would fine the Denver outpost of embattled whole-body CT scanner chain Heart Check America nearly $3.2 million, the highest fine ever handed down by the state's radiation authorities.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment docked the facility and its owners for what they said were nine violations of the state's radiation control rules, including failure to have a state-licensed doctor supervise the company's electron-beam CT scanner and giving CT scans without a doctor's orders.

The fines come less than two months after the Illinois attorney general's office filed a lawsuit against the firm's owners for what it described as "high-pressure sales" tactics to convince customers to sign up for 10-year packages of scans that cost up to $7,000.

Heart Check America, which also runs or once ran clinics in Nevada, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, California and Washington, D.C., advertises whole-body CT screenings, bone density tests, virtual colonoscopies and other exams as part of a "virtual physical," according to reports.

But investigators in Illinois and Colorado have argued the whole-body scans were not medically necessary and were either inaccurate or of poor quality.

The company's Denver office closed in early May, after receiving warning letters from state health officials. Brian Vamvakias, X-Ray Certification Unit leader with the health department, said before it shut its doors, Heart Check America was performing scans on nearly 150 patients a week, exposing them to "potentially unnecessary radiation doses without a doctor's involvement."

"When we contacted Heart Check America in April, we gave them an opportunity to correct their violations," Vamvakias said in a statement. "They stopped all communication with us and we were left with no choice but to proceed with escalated enforcement and assess these penalties."

In a statement, Colorado named Heart Check America-Denver, LLC, Sheila Haddad, David Haddad, Lisa Haddad and Todd Kaplan for the penalties. The state said they have 30 days to pay the fine or request a hearing.

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