Healthcare Business News

Wyo. hospital to pay $2.7 settlement in whistle-blower lawsuit

By Joe Carlson
Posted: October 5, 2012 - 2:45 pm ET

Almost exactly five years after the filing of a whistle-blower lawsuit, the Wyoming Medical Center has agreed to pay $2.7 million to resolve allegations of overbilling Medicare.

Gale Bryden, a certified legal nurse consultant at the 192-bed hospital in Casper, said in an October 2007 False Claims Act lawsuit that Wyoming Medical Center officials had been billing Medicare for inpatient services when beneficiaries actually received cheaper outpatient treatments. Bryden also alleged that the hospital admitted patients without a doctor's order and prolonged inpatient stays so that beneficiaries would qualify for long-term skilled-nursing treatment that the government otherwise would not have had to pay to provide, according to the lawsuit (PDF).

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After numerous requests to extendfiling deadlines, the Wyoming U.S. attorney's office announced this week that it would intervene in Bryden's lawsuit and settle the allegations for $2.7 million plus an agreement that the hospital enter a five-year corporate integrity agreement (PDF) with HHS' inspector general's office. Bryden, who was subsequently terminated from the hospital, will share in an undisclosed portion of the settlement.

The hospital cooperated with the investigation and did not admit wrong-doing as part of the settlement. Hospital officials could not be reached for comment Friday, but denied Bryden's allegations (PDF) during the litigation.

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