The founder and owner of a hospice care company in Texas directed nurses to induce overdoses in several patients as a means of increasing their profits, KXAS-TV reported on Tuesday.
According to an FBI affadavit, 34-year-old Brad Harris — an accountant with no health-related training — has ordered nurses working for him at Novus Health Care Services to “overdose hospice patients with palliative medications such as morphine to hasten death.”
Records stated that Harris ordered one nurse to cause overdoses in three patients. The nurse resigned rather than follow the order, but it is unclear what happened to the patients.
Another employee refused to follow Harris’ orders in late 2013 when directed via text message to “increasing [a] patient’s medication dosage to approximately four times the maximum allowed.”
Harris founded the company in July 2012, and has been under investigation since October 2014 for allegedly recruiting patients “who did not qualify for services” in order to bill the government for services that were not medically necessary.
He also allegedly ordered employees to fake the signatures of doctors employed by the company in order to decide which Novus home care patients would be moved into hospices.
“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,” an employee told the FBI.
If a patient was determined to be using hospice care for “too long,” Harris also allegedly ordered nurses to “make [them] go bye-bye” via text message, and also asked executives to “find patients who would die within 24 hours.”
The affadavit stated that because providers like Novus are required to reimburse the government for a portion of their Medicare and Medicaid payments if patients in hospice care live past a certain length, “hospice providers have an incentive to enroll patients whose hospice stays will be short relative to the cap.”
Neither Harris nor Novus have been charged in connection with the investigation, but officials raided the company’s offices in Frisco last September, at which point they seized enough company emails to fill 18 DVDs, as well as obtaining another 44 DVDs worth of correspondence via subpoena.
Watch KXAS’ report, as aired on Tuesday, below.