The controversial and defunct Heart Check America health care body imaging company has been hit with a class-action lawsuit in Las Vegas charging deceptive trade practices.
The suit was filed Friday, three days before the company was fined $3.2 million by Colorado regulators for conducting CT scans on patients without orders from licensed doctors.
These scans potentially exposed people to unnecessary radiation, the Colorado agency charged.
In Las Vegas, the lawsuit covers concerns about allegedly high-pressure and deceptive sales pitches by Heart Check America previously reported in the Las Vegas Sun on June 7 by ProPublica and former Sun health care reporter Marshall Allen.
Represented by Las Vegas attorney George West III, lead plaintiff Kenneth Barth in the Clark County District Court lawsuit alleges he and others last year or earlier were induced to sign 10-year, $3,995 medical services contracts financed by Chase Bank USA for imaging services providing one full body scan per year and studies of his heart, lungs and pelvis.
The suit alleges Heart Check America engaged in deceptive trade practices by failing to disclose to consumers that none of the radiological imaging tests to be provided could be performed in Nevada unless they were first authorized by a referral from an authorized medical practitioner – and then only for specific types of radiological imaging studies on limited portions of a patient’s body.
By failing to disclose a referral was needed from a physician, Heart Check also failed to disclose customers would have to pay for doctor visits to receive those referrals, the lawsuit alleges.
"The Heart Check America defendants were essentially entering into and/or facilitating the entering into of illegal contracts for medical services with the consuming public because Heart Check America defendants were in fact conducting such radiological imaging studies without any referral and/or authorization of a medical practitioner," the suit alleges.
The suit also charges that in May of this year, Barth tried to schedule his scans for the second year of his contract only to discover the local Heart Check America office had closed and its phone was disconnected.
"However, plaintiff continues to make payments to Chase Bank for the financing of the long-term medical services contract he entered into," the suit charges. "Defendant Heart Check America breached its contract with the plaintiff."
Heart Check America, which earlier said it closed its local office for financial reasons, hasn’t yet responded to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages and legal fees.
Its website has been changed to say "Health Screening Plus." A message for comment was left with Health Screening Plus.
The defendants in the suit include Heart Check America Inc. and Chase Bank.
Prior to its closure, the Nevada State Health Division in May had ordered the Heart Check America clinic in Las Vegas at 7690 W. Sahara Ave. to stop conducting scans without doctors’ orders and to take steps to protect employees from radiation exposure.