An FBI agent is reporting that Brad Harris, owner of Novus Health Care Services Inc. in Frisco, Texas “regularly directed nurses to overdose hospice patients with drugs such as morphine to speed up their deaths and maximize profits.”
According to the agent’s affidavit, text messages were sent to nurses saying, “You need to make this patient go bye-bye.”
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Jamie Knodel from The Dallas Morning News (DMN) reports:
Harris, an accountant, told a nurse to overdose three patients and directed another employee to increase a patient’s medication to four times the maximum allowed, the FBI said.
In the first case, the employee refused to follow the alleged instructions, the agent wrote in the affidavit. The document does not say whether the other three patients were actually harmed.
Harris also told other health care executives over a lunch meeting that he wanted to “find patients who would die within 24 hours,” and made comments like, “if this f— would just die,” an FBI agent wrote in the warrant.
According to the report, the reason Harris was giving the directives is because owners of hospices tend to make less money for longer hospice stays. The reason is based on an ‘aggregator cap’ in which “Medicare and Medicaid payments are based on the yearly average hospice stay.”
In other words, more beds means more money. “If patients live longer than that, the provider can be forced to pay back part of their payments to the government. ‘Hence, hospice providers have an incentive to enroll patients whose hospice stays will be short relative to the cap,’ an agent wrote in the affidavit.”
The FBI said its investigation into Novus started in October 2014 and initially focused on allegations that for the previous two years, the company recruited patients “who did not qualify for services” and charged the government for services that were not medically necessary.
The investigation revealed that “as part of this scheme, Harris, who has 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 cap.”
“He did this by having employees who were not doctors sign the certifications with the names of doctors also employed by Novus,” the agent said. “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.”
In a lunch meeting, the FBI said, Harris asked two health care executives to “find patients who would die within 24 hours” because that would “save my ass toward the cap.”
Speaking of one of his patients, Harris said “words to the effect of, ‘If this f— would just die.’”
Another Norvus employee told agents that in late 2013, Harris sent a text message asking the worker to “administer an overdose of medication to a hospice patient … by increasing the patient’s medication dosage to approximately four times the maximum allowed.”
The employee did not comply with the request because it would have killed the patient, the FBI said.
One worker said Harris regularly directed nurses to “overdose hospice patients when they have been on hospice service for too long” by sending text messages like, “You need to make this patient go bye-bye,” the FBI said.