Today the United States Justice Department announced the $784,000 resolution of a qui tam lawsuit (i.e. a whistleblower lawsuit) with Livingston Regional Hospital, a Livingston, Tennessee hospital owned by LifePoint Health, Inc. The lawsuit was filed pursuant to the False Claims Act by former employees who had worked in the hospital’s geriatric psychiatric unit. The two whistleblowers were represented by Jerry Martin and Seth Hyatt of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC.
In the lawsuit, the whistleblowers alleged that Livingston kept elderly patients in its geriatric psychiatric unit, called OakPoint, far longer than medically necessary, in order to keep beds filled in the unit and obtain more money from Medicare. The whistleblowers further alleged that many OakPoint admissions were entirely improper, as many of the patients being admitted could not benefit from the inpatient psychiatric treatment that the hospital was providing. As a matter of federal law, specialized psychiatric facilities that take Medicare money, such as OakPoint, can only admit patients who require active psychiatric treatment at a level that can only be provided on an inpatient basis. And those facilities cannot keep patients any longer than medically necessary.
“This settlement sends a strong message that hospitals cannot fill their pockets with Medicare money at the expense of their patients’ well-being” said Jerry Martin of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC. Martin added, “A hospital’s decision to keep a patient in a psychiatric facility should never be based on money, especially when that money is being paid by the American taxpayer.”
Martin, who served as the presidentially appointed United States Attorney from 2010-2013, focuses his practice on representing whistleblowers who wish to come forward and expose fraud on state and federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The False Claims Act provides a mechanism for whistleblowers to report fraud and share in the government’s recovery. Last year, whistleblowers were paid nearly $400 million in rewards payments for filing qui tam lawsuits that lead to recoveries to the federal treasury.
To learn more about our Whistleblower & Qui Tam practice click here. Our firm is located in Nashville, Tennessee but we represent whistleblowers all around the country.
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