Ringgold healthcare provider settle opioid prescription case

ATLANTA, Georgia (WDEF) – The Department of Justice announces a settlement with a Ringgold healthcare provider in an opioid prescription complaint.

North Georgia Healthcare Center and CEO Delaine Hunter agreed to pay $130,000 to settle allegations.

Prosecutors say that a former physician at the facility, Dr. Gary Smith, prescribed opioids when they weren’t needed and without medical review.

“Medical professionals are trusted to prescribe controlled substances in compliance with the law and in a manner that protects the health and safety of their patients,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.

North Georgia Healthcare was accused of violating the False Claims Act for more than six years by allowing the prescriptions.

“Healthcare fraud is not a victimless crime, with fraudsters often preying on beneficiaries across the country. Especially insidious is the fraud committed by heath care practitioners who are trusted to prescribe only medically necessary, quality services to patients,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

This settlement resolves a federal lawsuit brought against NGHC filed by a former employee as a whistleblower.

“Medical professionals are trusted to prescribe controlled substances in compliance with the law and in a manner that protects the health and safety of their patients,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.  “We will continue to vigorously pursue those who breach that trust using every tool at our disposal.”

Categories: Catoosa County, Featured, Local News, Ringgold