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Pittsburgh 57 articles

PA Doc Pays Nearly $1 Million To Resolve FCA Lawsuit Alleging Medicare Fraud

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A Western Pennsylvania doctor and a health care company he operated in five states will pay the U.S. government nearly $1 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging he and the companies defrauded the Medicare program. David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said Tuesday that Dr. John Balko and Dr. John Balko & Associates Inc., doing business as Senior Healthcare Associates, have agreed to settle the False Claims Act case for $930,000. The False Claims lawsuit alleged Medicare fraud due to Dr. Balko and his clinics submitting claims to Medicare for a range of ... Read More

Pennsylvania Farmers Sue Insurer In Wake of Gas Explosion


A  Southwest Pennsylvania couple whose cattle farm was partially destroyed by a natural gas explosion likely caused by corroded underground pipes are suing their insurance company in federal court, alleging it is holding out on paying them their full policy limit until it gets paid by pipeline owner and utility Spectra Energy Corp. Randy and Wendy Gillis, whose family-owned farm has produced crops and pastured cows for nearly a century, sued State Automobile Mutual Insurance Co. of Columbus, Ohio, alleging the insurer is compounding the suffering they’ve already experienced in the aftermath of the April 29 blast. The gas explosion ... Read More

Public Indoor Vaping: Should It Be Banned?

e-cigarette vaping - photo by the-best-electronic-cigarette-review dot com

A public hearing was held last week by the Allegheny County Board of Health in Pittsburgh, Penn., regarding the banning of e-cigarette smoking indoors at public places because it “normalizes” the act of smoking. But many showed up to fight the proposed vaping ban. The county law being proposed would ban the smoking of e-cigarettes indoors in public places, just like regular cigarettes, as suggested by the Clean Indoor Air Act. The ban would restrict use at establishments that serve food and drink, and places with children present younger than 18. “Exercise became possible. I lost 100 pounds,” said 21-year-old Ryan Huntermark, speaking ... Read More

Child Thrown From Roller Coaster Airlifted To Pittsburgh Hospital

roller coaster injury, Pennsylvania - image by WPIX Chopper 11

A 3-year old child was airlifted to a Pennsylvania hospital Thursday after being thrown from a roller coaster at an amusement park near Pittsburgh. The accident occurred at the Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, a Southwestern Pennsylvania town about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. Initial reports said the child fell from the park’s “Rollo Coaster,” one of the two roller coasters in an amusement park featuring mostly children’s rides and attractions. The child was flown to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The extent of the child’s injuries was not made public Thursday afternoon. According ... Read More

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Pays $2.5 Million To Settle Whistleblower Claims

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The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and three related entities will pay the U.S. more than $2.5 million to partially settle a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by whistleblowers who alleged the defendants were submitting false and inflated bills to Medicare for their neurology services. U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania announced the settlement Wednesday. The University of Pittsburgh Physicians, UPMC Community Medicine, Inc., and Tri-State Neurosurgical Associates-UPMC, Inc. are the other defendants named in the whistleblower suit. The complaint alleged that certain UPMC neurosurgeons submitted claims for assisting with or supervising surgical procedures ... Read More

Olympus communications regarding contaminated duodenoscopes could play key role in lawsuits


In June 2012, an investigator hired by medical device company Olympus and a Netherlands hospital concluded in a report that the design of the company’s specialized endoscope called a duodenoscope could trap blood and tissue that was difficult to remove under standardized cleaning and disinfecting, allowing the device to spread bacteria from patient to patient. The independent expert recommended that Olympus conduct a worldwide investigation and recall all its duodenoscopes if outbreaks of patient infections should arise. At the time, Olympus executives were aware of three outbreaks of superbug infections in patients who had undergone procedures with its duodenoscopes – affecting about ... Read More

FDA approves novel device to treat insomnia


A new medical device approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers the 55 million Americans who suffer from insomnia a drug-free alternative to help them fall back to sleep. The Cerêve Sleep System is a prescription device that is clinically proven to reduce latency to Stage 1 and Stage 2 sleep for people with insomnia. The inspiration behind the Cerêve Sleep System came from pioneering functional brain imaging studies conducted by Eric Nofzinger, MD, a board certified sleep physician and the company’s founder, at the University of Pittsburgh. Patients with insomnia often describe “racing minds” that prevent them ... Read More

Pennsylvania Pipeline Blast Damages Homes, Seriously Burns One Man


A natural gas pipeline exploded at a gas facility in a Southwestern Pennsylvania town Friday, generating a massive fireball that demolished a nearby home, damaged several others, and left a resident with serious burn injuries. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection reported that the pipeline blast occurred in a 36-inch pipeline at a complex owned by Texas Eastern Transmission, a unit of Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston, in Salem Township, about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh. Some local residents told the York (Pennsylvania) Dispatch that they always feared something could happen at the gas complex, and on Friday morning around 8:30 ... Read More

Pittsburgh Bus Drivers On Trial For Allegedly Racing Buses, Crashing

bus crash Pittsburg Port Authority - WTAE News image

A Pittsburgh Port Authority bus driver on trial for his alleged role in a 2014 crash that sent another bus off an embankment denied he and the other driver were recklessly racing and jockeying for position as prosecutors contend. Port Authority drivers Thomas Frauens, 57, and Juliann Maier, 47, face multiple charges of reckless driving and reckless endangerment. The two had just set out for their morning shifts and were driving along Interstate 279 when the rear of Ms. Maier’s bus struck the Mr. Frauen’s bus. Surveillance footage shows Ms. Maier’s bus drifting back and forth toward Mr. Frauen’s bus ... Read More

Unions Push OSHA for Lower Beryllium Exposure Limits Than Proposed Rule Permits

shipbuilding beryllium coal slag blasting

Unionized steelworkers are pushing the federal government to adopt stricter safety standards governing beryllium exposure, arguing that the even a drastic exposure reduction proposed by regulators last year is inadequate in protecting many workers from the highly toxic element. According to the Newport News Daily Press, union officials from the largest Newport News shipyard say even the drastic reduction in exposure limits proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) won’t protect thousands of workers, and advocate for even lower limits and different, safer blasting agents. OSHA has published a notice of proposed rulemaking, calling for public comments on ... Read More