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Colo. imaging center closes after investigation

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 11, 2011
The Denver office of a national imaging chain shut its doors after state inspectors cited it for performing CT scans on patients without doctors' referrals and not having them supervised by a physician licensed to practice in the state.

Heart Check America, which also has 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."

But the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment worried that whole-body scans were not appropriate for healthy patients, and that the scans weren't high enough quality and weren't interpreted by a radiologist in a "timely fashion."
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And although the CT scanner was properly calibrated and its technicians correctly trained, the supervising doctor listed by the clinic was not licensed to practice in the state, according to reports.

On April 14, the agency ordered the clinic to only perform scans on the 5 percent of its clients who had doctors' referrals. Then on April 25, it ordered the clinic to cease performing scans altogether.

After their warning letter was ignored, investigators showed up at the clinic on May 5, only to find it closed, according to reports.

The local news channel 7News said the health department inspection was prompted by the channel's undercover investigation of the clinic in September. The station said the clinic had charged a 68-year-old Denver woman more than $5,000 for 10 years' worth of scans that doctors thought were medically unnecessary.

The station also said it caught a clinic salesman on camera suggesting that Patrick Swayze would likely still be alive if he had visited the clinic's Beverly Hills office for a screening that would have caught his pancreatic cancer.

According to reports, Heart Check was not returning calls, and its voice mail said it was undergoing a "reorganization."

Nevada officials said the chain was under investigation in the state for similar violations, according to Reuters.

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