Major announcement at MU's medical school

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(From left to right) Dr. Michael Richards, Dr. Robert Churchill, Dr. Kenneth Rall

COLUMBIA, MO — Updated, 1:25 p.m.: Possible billing fraud in the Department of Radiology in the University of Missouri School of Medicine prompted the university to hire an outside law firm to investigate in November of last year. The U.S. Attorneys Office in Kansas City had told the university that a federal investigation was underway.

Harold A. Williamson Jr., M.D., vice chancellor of the University of Missouri Health System, announced Friday that health system officials are making substantive changes in the School of Medicines Department of Radiology as the result of an internal university investigation.

In addition, Williamson announced that Robert Churchill, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, has officially announced his plans to retire and will leave the university in October.

“As the result of our investigation, we believe that two radiologists, Dr. Kenneth Rall and Dr. Michael Richards, violated Medicare and hospital rules by certifying that they had performed services that were actually performed by resident physicians,” Williamson said.

“We were shocked and disappointed to learn about this, because any kind of fraud is entirely inconsistent with our health systems values, our mission, and our commitment to patient care,” said Williamson, who has served as a physician at MU for 30 years, including 10 years as chair of MUs nationally recognized Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Williamson said the top concern of health system officials throughout the investigation was the possible impact on patients.

“Although we are in the early stages of the investigation, we have reviewed millions of lines of computer data and conducted lengthy interviews with many medical professionals. Thus far we have found no evidence that patient care was compromised,” Williamson said.

Health system officials made the preliminary findings public today because “the finding of fraudulent billings was troubling enough that we felt we needed to act immediately,” Williamson said.

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Major announcement at MU's medical school

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