UPMC surgeon to resign from top post after federal whistleblower suit

James Luketich, MD, the longtime cardiothoracic chair at Pittsburgh-based UPMC, will step down from his role following a federal false claims settlement, the health system confirmed to Becker's on June 9. 

UPMC did not confirm a reason for the exit or provide further comment. 

In February, UPMC, University of Pittsburgh Physicians and Dr. Luketich agreed to pay $8.5 million to the Justice Department to resolve the whistleblower suit brought about by a former UPMC cardiothoracic surgeon. Prosecutors alleged that the defendants illegally submitted hundreds of false claims to Medicare, Medicaid and other government health programs over a six-year period. Dr. Luketich allegedly performed up to three complex surgeries at the same time, did not participate in "key and critical" portions of his cases and had patients under anesthesia for long periods as he moved between operating rooms, resulting in complications for some patients. Under federal law, it is illegal for surgeons at teaching hospitals to bill CMS for two concurrent surgeries if the surgeon is not present for all key and critical portions of the procedure. 

Although Dr. Luketich, 69, will exit his leadership role at the end of June, he will remain on staff as a surgeon and perform research; he will also continue to hold an endowed professorship, a spokesperson for the health system told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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