A Raleigh ear, nose and throat physician was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday for using unsanitary surgical devices, Medicare fraud and stealing patient identities.
Anita Louise Jackson, 62, was convicted of adulterating surgical devices used in more than 1400 nasal surgeries performed on Medicare patients between 2011 and 2018. Jackson was also ordered to serve 3 years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $4.7 million.
“This doctor put profit over patients by reusing single-use surgical devices hundreds of times, even though those devices came into contact with blood and other bodily fluids,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley in a statement. “In doing so, she risked the contamination of one patient’s sinuses with the bodily fluids of other patients.”
Medicare auditors also found that Jackson was the top biller for balloon sinuplasty surgeries in the country, having billed over $46 million. When auditors began to examine the practice, Jackson and her staff falsified medical records and forged patient signatures.
Jackson operated Greater Carolina Ear, Nose, and Throat, with offices in Raleigh, Lumberton and Rockingham. She marketed balloon sinuplasty, an in-office procedure to treat chronic sinusitis, as a “sinus spa,” and encouraged patients to come to the office for a “free” sinus spa.
Between 2011 and the end of 2017, Jackson performed 1555 balloon sinuplasty surgeries on 919 Medicare beneficiary patients, using the Food and Drug Administration-approved Entellus XprESS device.
However, instead of using the device only once and only on one patient, as required by FDA guidelines, Jackson reused the devices on multiple patients.
Jackson also failed to inform her patients that they were receiving a procedure with an adulterated device. During her trial, Jackson admitted that she had the money to buy every patient a new device but chose not to do so.
The final judgment on restitution will not be entered for another 90 days.