North Carolina physician sentenced to 25 years in prison for reusing single-use medical devices

Raleigh, N.C.-based otolaryngologist Anita Louise Jackson, MD, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury found her guilty of 20 criminal charges, including reusing single-use surgical devices and stealing her patient's identities, according to a July 11 report from Medscape.

In January, she was found guilty of adulterating medical devices and forced to pay $4.79 million to Medicare following a three-week trial. 

Authorities allege that Dr. Jackson performed more than 1,500 balloon sinuplasty surgeries on more than 900 Medicare patients at her three practices in North Carolina between 2011 and 2018. She was the top-paid Medicare provider of the procedure in the U.S. from 2012 to 2017. 

She only purchased 36 single-use dilation tools needed to perform the surgery, while billing Medicare for hundreds. She reused the devices on each patient, using them several times without patient consent or knowledge. 

According to court records, she sometimes only washed the instruments with soap and tap water in between procedures. During the trial in January, Dr. Jackson admitted that she could have purchased instruments for each patient, but she saved over $1 million by reusing devices. 

Dr. Jackson also allegedly advertised endoscopic chronic sinusitis treatment as "free sinus spa" services; however, Medicare only covers the procedure at 80 percent. By not disclosing out-of-pocket costs to Medicare beneficiaries, she was able to collect millions. 

She also allegedly fabricated medical records to deceive Medicare, backdating documents and forging patient signatures. 

According to her indictment, mail fraud has a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, failure to collect patient coinsurance carries a 10-year sentence with an extra five years for conspiracy charges, and making false statements and the use of adulterated devices and aggravated identity theft can each add three- and two-year sentences. 

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