Allergy Lab Owner Gets Prison Time for Faking Test Results
Six months after pleading guilty to faking laboratory test results, former allergy lab owner Rahsaan Jackson Garth, also known as R. Jackson Garth, was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by 3 years supervised release, ordered to pay a fine of $246,536.50 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. Garth was the […]
Six months after pleading guilty to faking laboratory test results, former allergy lab owner Rahsaan Jackson Garth, also known as R. Jackson Garth, was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by 3 years supervised release, ordered to pay a fine of $246,536.50 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. Garth was the owner of Polaris Allergy Labs, Inc., a laboratory in East Point, Ga. that performed blood tests for food and environmental allergies on patients, many of whom were elderly or were children. According to a Department of Justice press release, Garth directed his employees not to test some of the blood samples in order to save money. He would create fake test results to send back to the doctor. Finally, he would submit insurance claims for the testing to various government and commercial insurance payers, including Medicare and Medicaid. According to the court record from the case, Garth is not a medical doctor and has no medical training. His wife is a physician. How Polaris Operated According to court documents, Polaris would place a phlebotomist in those physicians’ offices with which it had established business relationships. The phlebotomists would perform scratch tests when requested by the physician, and read them later. They also collected blood samples to be returned to the lab for testing. From the perspective of the physician ordering tests from Polaris, the laboratory looked and operated like most other laboratories. The physician would order tests. The Polaris phlebotomist would collect the blood sample, complete the requisition form according to the physician’s orders and then package the samples and the form for pickup by a Polaris courier. Polaris phlebotomists performing the scratch tests is one uncommon variable but since this is allergy testing and that was the lab’s specialty, it probably seemed like part of the service, and it saved the physician money. A few days later, the physician received a test result. If the physician, or any one else for that matter, visited Polaris, it looked like an operational laboratory. Details of the Fraud Garth opened Polaris in 2011 with money borrowed from his wife and some of his friends. In September 2012, with the business not doing well, court documents indicate he directed his laboratory technicians to stop testing some of the samples the laboratory received. The criteria to select the samples that were to go untested, at least initially, was, if the patient was older than 12 years or the scratch tests did not have any highly reactive results. The technician would create a blank report template with the patient’s demographics and send it electronically to Garth. Garth would add the fake test results and transmit the completed test result with the fake numbers back to the ordering physician. The sample would be discarded, never having even been processed. Garth would vary the results so they would not appear suspicious. In some cases, partial tests were actually run. For instance, if the laboratory was out of a particular reagent or reagents, the tests for which there were reagents were performed and then Garth would fill in the blanks with fake results for the ones that were not performed. Sometimes, Garth would override the criteria for selecting which samples would be faked and fake tests for patients under 12 years of age or when there was a highly reactive scratch test. Cooperated With Law Enforcement During the investigation, Garth cooperated with law enforcement in helping to identify the physicians and patients who had received the fake test results. In pleading mitigating circumstances, Garth said he was embarrassed by the lab’s failure to make a lot of money so he took the actions he did to increase profits. That said, patients could have been seriously harmed by the fake test results. Takeaway: Never underestimate the lengths that normally honest people may go to for a profit even at the expense of patient care.