Fraud investigation underway into US drug tester used in custody cases – media – Reuters
Averhealth is sued by parents who were deprived of visitation rights to their children
Drug-testing company Averhealth, which has been used by the courts to assess parents’ suitability for custody of their children, is being investigated by the US Department of Justice for medical fraud, Vice reported. Friday, citing internal government emails.
The Department of Justice is specifically looking into allegations, made under oath by former lab director Sarah Riley, that Averhealth failed to adhere to quality checks intended to ensure proper calibration of lab instruments, leading to results incorrect in 30% of reports to the Michigan Child Protective Agency. . The company denied the allegations.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suspended its contract with Averhealth after learning of the DOJ investigation, the emails reveal. While the testing company told Vice that its contract with the agency remains in place, a March 2022 message from a special adviser to the agency’s director of children’s services confirmed that the department has “stopped using drug testing company Averhealth after receiving information from the U.S. attorney that Averhealth was being investigated for medical fraud.”
“[Averhealth] did not comply with national accreditation standards for the calibration of test equipment despite agreeing to do so in their contract“, we read in the message.
The College of American Pathologists (CAP), the body responsible for accrediting testers such as Averhealth, had substantiated Riley’s complaint alleging unacceptable lab practices in January 2021, placing the drug tester on probation for the first six month of this year. Averhealth nevertheless told Vice that CAP had “determined that Dr. Riley’s allegations were unfoundedand even claimed his innocence in emails to HHS Michigan while he was on probation for the same allegations.
The emails show that Michigan HHS employees were also deeply disturbed by irregularities in Averhealth’s results. “We make BIG decisions, including asking parents to leave the house or move out, and it’s scary to do when you don’t trust who you’re getting services fromread an email from an HHS supervisor to colleagues.
Several parents are suing Averhealth over false drug test results returned by the company, claiming they were wrongfully denied their children’s visitation and other rights as a result. At least 2,885 foster children had parents or guardians who returned positive drug tests from Averhealth during Michigan’s contract period, according to agency emails.
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