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Colorado Hits Body-Imaging Chain With a Hefty Fine

Heart Check America, which marketed controversial body scans to consumers, treated patients without doctors’ orders and may have exposed patients unnecessarily to radiation, regulators say.

Colorado regulators have fined Heart Check America and its principal operators $3.2 million, saying the body imaging company exposed patients to potentially unnecessary radiation doses and treated them without doctors’ orders.

The fine is the largest ever imposed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Radiation Program, regulators said. The enforcement action came after a June ProPublica report detailed Heart Check America’s high-pressure, direct-to-consumer methods of drumming up sales for scans that some said were probably not medically necessary.

The fine covers violations for failing to have a doctor licensed in Colorado supervise the Electron Beam Tomography Scans performed at Heart Check America centers. The company also was penalized for making images without a doctor’s order, neglecting to have policies that ensure safe use of the machine and failing to register with the state as a healing arts screening program.

David Haddad, the company’s marketing and sales director, said Heart Check had done nothing wrong and that his attorney would dispute the fine. Haddad’s mother, Sheila, purchased the chain in 2009. Haddad said that some of the compliance problems stemmed from simple errorsthe Denver center’s supervising doctor, for instance, merely let his license lapse.

Heart Check America had operated eight centers in California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada and Washington, D.C., all of which are now closed, Haddad said. Other imaging companies are taking over the long-term contracts that Heart Check America entered into with consumers, he said.

Haddad previously told ProPublica that Heart Check America made sales presentations to tens of thousands of consumers in a two-year period, bringing in about $30 million in revenue. Colorado officials said the company’s assets will be auctioned to pay off the debts. Haddad said attempts to sell the company have faced “obstacles,” apparently alluding to regulators and media reports.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office sued Heart Check America in June on behalf of consumers.

Colorado consumers who feel they’ve been defrauded by Heart Check America should call the Office of the Attorney General, regulators said.

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