Hospice owner accused of telling nurses to overdose, kill patients

The owner of a Texas hospice company has come under fire for allegedly encouraging employees to overdose patients and hasten their death in order to avoid the federal reimbursement cap for hospice stays.

Brad Harris, 34, owner of Novus Health Care Services Inc., allegedly told a nurse to overdose three patients on drugs such as morphine, and instructed another employee to give a patient four times the maximum dose allowed, according to an FBI affidavit obtained by a Dallas television station. In another instance, Harris texted an employee of the Frisco, TX-based company “you need to make this patient go bye-bye.”

The FBI affidavit was written in February, but not publicly released until this week. No charges have been filed against Harris or Novus as of press time, and Harris remains free. The FBI declined to comment on the investigation, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The affidavit also accuses Harris of telling other healthcare executives that he sought out “patients who would die within 24 hours,” and of making comments like “if this f— would just die.” While at least one employee refused to comply with Harris' instructions, it's unclear if any patients were harmed.

The FBI's affidavit says Harris was motivated to find patients whose hospice stays were forecasted to be short, or even speed up patients' deaths, in order to skirt the payment caps placed on hospice care by Medicare and Medicaid.

Another employee said Harris would frequently decide which patients would be moved to and from home care, despite not being medically certified; Harris is an accountant by trade. Harris would have employees sign transfer papers with the names of doctors employed by the company, according to the affidavit.

"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,” the affidavit reads.