May 9, 2011 3:12 PM by Andy Koen
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced on Monday that the Heart Check America office in Denver had closed following an investigation by the department for allegedly running illegal CT scans on patients without a doctors order.
Department spokesman Mark Salley said in a news release that state inspectors discovered last month only 5 percent of the CT scans performed at the West 26th Avenue location had come at the request of a licensed doctor.
The department ordered the company to cease all operations on April 25 and sent a follow up violation notice on May 2. The offices were empty on Thursday when inspectors visited them.
Brian Vamvakias of the department's X-ray certification unit wrote to the Colorado Medical Board on Friday to say that the department was concerned that Heart Check America's patients were being exposed to radiation without the benefit of a sufficient diagnosis.
The letter reads:
"We are concerned these scans are being done on some patients without a Colorado licensed physician's order, and that the scan results are not being read by a radiologist in a timely fashion. We are also concerned that the machine used to scan the patients does not produce images of diagnostic quality sufficient for the intended diagnosis. Finally, we do not feel a whole body scan is an appropriate screening tool for an asymptomatic patient. Our concern is based on the premise that exposure to radiation from medical procedures must have some benefit for the patient. If the images from this system are not sufficient to determine presence of a disease, or if these exams are not being read by a radiologist and the results are not being communicated to the patient, then the patients receive the risk of the radiation dose with no benefit at all."
In addition to Colorado, Heart Check America also operates clinics in Nevada, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, California and Washington, D.C.
The health department encourages patients who believe they have been defrauded by Heart Check America to file a complaint with the attorney general's office at 303-866-5189.