The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport (LSUHSC) will pay $706,000 to settle allegations that the teaching hospital billed Medicare for services that were not provided, according to an article in the Shreveport Times.
Former LSUHSC employees William Overdyke, MD, a teaching physician in the hospital's orthopedic department, and Susan Belgert Hodnett, the orthopedic head nurse, blew the whistle on LSUHSC,s alleged fraudulent billing. Overdyke and Hodnett say that between 1995 and 2005, J.A. Albright, MD, and Kalia Sadasivan, MD, were routinely absent from surgical procedures they were scheduled to attend, but proceeded to bill as if they had been there. According to the article, the physicians and the hospital would then divide the reimbursement.
Overdyke and Hodnett filed the charges in October 2002, and according to the article, Hodnett was fired within a year of the filing. Hodnett also claims LSUHSC gave poor reviews of her performance to potential employers in retaliation for the suit. Overdyke, who was fired prior to filing the suit, was investigated by LSUHSC,s chancellor for receiving kickbacks. Overdyke claims the charges were unfounded and were an act of vengeance.
These claims of mistreatment could cost LSUHSC. The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from being discriminated against by their employers. Overdike and Hodnett will split $141,335 from the settlement and plan to file another suit to collect lost wages, lost benefits, damage to their reputations, and other items allowed by state and federal whistleblower protection laws.