Ohio physician sues medical group, alleges illegal payment for referrals: 5 details

Boardman, Ohio-based Adil Jaffer, MD, filed a lawsuit against Steward Medical Group, part of Boston-based Steward Health Care, alleging he received higher than average pay to keep referrals within the Steward network, according to a report in Tribune Chronicle, part of Ogden Newspapers.

Five details:

1. Steward Medical Group bought Dr. Jaffer's practice in 2018 and he became an employed physician.

2. The lawsuit alleges Dr. Jaffer's salary was above average for family physicians in his region, and he said Steward Medical Group officials dismissed his concerns about his pay rate, according to the report.

3. After becoming employed at Steward, Dr. Jaffer maintained his previous referral patterns although some of the physicians he referred to were not part of the Steward network. He claimed his bosses at Steward criticized him for not keeping referrals within its network, according to the lawsuit.

4. Dr. Jaffer said he learned over time that part of his compensation assumed he would make a high volume of referrals within the Steward network.

5. Steward terminated Dr. Jaffer's contract on Dec. 30, 2019. Dr. Jaffer claimed his regional medical director said his only misstep was not supporting Steward's referral network, according to the March 4 lawsuit.

Steward Medical Group denies Dr. Jaffer's claims. "Dr. Jaffer’s claims have no basis in law or fact. Steward Medical Group denies any assertion that it paid, employed or terminated Dr. Jaffer based on the volume or value of his referrals, or that it otherwise acted improperly toward him in any way," said Roger Mitty, MD, senior vice president of Steward Medical Group, in a statement to Becker's. "Steward Medical Group takes its legal and clinical obligations very seriously and intends to vigorously defend itself against the specious allegations put forth in Dr. Jaffer’s complaint."

Note: Becker's updated this article with a statement from Steward Medical Group on March 16 at 12:45 p.m. CST.

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