FBI investigates hospice owner for overmedicating, Medicare fraud

A home healthcare and hospice agency owner reportedly instructed nurses to overdose four people in an attempt to maximize profits.

Brad Harris, an accountant and founder of Novus Health Care Services, told employees to increase a person’s medication to three or four times the maximum allowed, according to an FBI affidavit for a search warrant obtained by NBC-5, Dallas-Fort Worth.

The warrant, signed Feb. 3, said the FBI was investigating healthcare fraud, false statements relating to healthcare matters and obstruction of a criminal investigation into healthcare offenses. No charges have been filed against Harris or the Frisco, Texas-based company.

"As part of this scheme, Harris, who had no medical training or licenses, would direct his employed nurses to overdose hospice patients with palliative medications such as morphine to hasten death, and thereby minimize Novus' (paybacks) under the (aggregator) cap," according to the affidavit.

Harris allegedly instructed a nurse to administer overdoses to three patients and for another employee to increase a patient’s medication to four times the maximum allowed. Employees interviewed by FBI investigators said Harris would send text messages like, "You need to make this patient go bye-bye."

Harris is also said to have asked two executives to, "Find patients who would die within 24 hours" and made comments to the effect of "If this f—would just die," according to the affidavit.

Another employee told the FBI that Harris himself chose the home healthcare patients who would be moved to hospice care. "He did this by having employees who were not doctors sign the certificates with the names of the doctors also employed by Novus," according to the affidavit. "If a patient was on hospice care for too long, Harris would direct the patient be moved back to home health, irrespective of whether the patient needed continued hospice care."

The FBI began investigating Novus in October 2014 for allegations that since 2012 the company recruited patients who did not qualify for services and charged the government for services not medically necessary, the NBC-5 story noted.

The search warrant required that a third-party data storage company turn over all of Novus emails and medical records. The FBI previously searched company offices Sept. 17, 2015, and seized 18 DVDs worth of the company's emails. Another 44 were subpoenaed from the attorney of a former unnamed executive.

The FBI is working with the Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General's office.

Topics: Facility management , Finance , Leadership