Lawsuit Alleges Sanford Health, Surgeon Defrauded Millions From Government

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Sanford Health and one of its surgeons have been accused of defrauding the federal government of millions of dollars and performing unnecessary surgeries.

A court filing unsealed on Thursday lays out the argument being made by two other Sanford doctors.

It claims that Sanford neurosurgeon Dr. Wilson Asfora performed dangerous and unnecessary spinal procedures using devices Sanford bought from a company he owns. The 111-page complaint accuses Asfora and Sanford of receiving kickbacks on the devices and procedures, defrauding the federal government of millions of dollars.

The filing says Sanford executives, including Sanford President and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, were aware of the fraud and ignored complaints brought forth by other surgeons.

The complaint says some of Asfora’s devices have been rendered obsolete in large part due to technological advances and that Asfora is the only Sanford surgeon using them. It goes on to say that Asfora defrauded the FDA by using the devices for other purposes than intended after they received federal approval.

The complaint says when doctors brought their concerns to management they were intimidated and threatened with discipline.

Asfora and Sanford were also sued in 2013 under the False Claims Act, alleging that Asfora was involved in a scheme to pay surgeons to use equipment from his company. Sanford settled the lawsuit for $625,000 and all defendants denied liability.

In a statement to KDLT News, Sanford Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allison Suttle called Asfora “an exceptionally talented surgeon who provides excellent care.” She went on to say these new allegations were investigated and were found to have no merit.

You can read her full statement below:

Dr. Wilson Asfora is an exceptionally talented surgeon who provides excellent care to his patients. His unique skills and expertise are a great asset to our region. He has saved the lives of hundreds of patients. The allegations in this lawsuit have been investigated and were found to have no merit. Sanford Health is confident in the care provided to our patients and will continue to provide quality care. We will vigorously defend this baseless suit.

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