The Nevada attorney general's office and the FBI are investigating possible Medicaid fraud at Columbia Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.
The April 29 raid on the facility by state and federal agents is the latest troublesome event to befall the 643-bed for-profit hospital, which is owned by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
The attorney general's office said Columbia executives allowed state investigators to inspect a wide range of "largely billing" records, documents and computer information at the hospital and at an off-site storage facility. The hospital also allowed investigators to take the items for further review.
Bob Harmon, spokesman for the attorney general's office in Carson City, Nev., said the FBI is assisting in the investigation, which is being conducted by the state's Medicaid Fraud Unit.
Harmon said his office is precluded by law from commenting further.
Columbia also is the target of a nationwide fraudulent billing investigation by the federal government and at least 11 states, including Nevada.
In a statement, Mitch Mitchell, Columbia Sunrise president and chief executive officer, confirmed the raid and said the hospital is cooperating with the investigation. He said subsequent document gathering by investigations won't affect patient-care operations at the facility.
The Las Vegas hospital has suffered a series of public relations black eyes over the past two years, usually involving the Service Employees International Union.
The SEIU has tried for several years to organize Columbia Sunrise's employees and frequently has disseminated unflattering information about the hospital to the media and to state and federal health officials.
In April 1997, for example, a blood transfusion error led to a patient death, which resulted in an inspection by the state health department and was made public last July.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations subsequently reviewed the hospital, citing it for four serious patient-care violations and downgrading its accreditation status.
In response to last week's raid, the SEIU issued a statement. Quoting Jerri Woolsten, a registered nurse at the hospital, the SEIU said: "This is a sad day for all of us. This really represents a time of crisis for this hospital. If Columbia Sunrise hopes to restore its credibility in this community, administrators must take active steps to rebuild bridges of communication and trust."