Whistle-blowers who brought a False Claims Act lawsuit against a prominent orthopedics group and Chicago's Rush University Medical Center filed an amended version of their complaint.
The development comes three months after the U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement with the 681-bed teaching hospital that resolved allegations in the lawsuit involving prohibited lease agreements. The government declined to join the remaining aspects of the lawsuit, originally filed in 2004 by orthopedic surgeon Robert Goldberg, M.D., and June Beecham, a former real estate director for the medical center.
According to the whistle-blowers' revised complaint, Midwest Orthopaedics surgeons routinely booked overlapping procedures. The practice, in which the lawsuit contends Rush was “complicit,” allegedly led to claims to Medicare and Medicaid for surgeries mostly performed by residents without required supervision at the hospital and Rush SurgiCenter, a joint venture with physicians.
“Rush believes that the lawsuit has no merit and intends to vigorously defend the case,” the medical center says in a written statement. In addition to Midwest Orthopaedics and Rush, the new version of the lawsuit targets six of Midwest's surgeons, including Richard Berger, M.D., known as a pioneer in minimally invasive hip and knee replacements.
A written statement provided by the group's lawyer says that Midwest and the physicians named in the lawsuit “categorically deny” the allegations. “We will vigorously defend this case as we have done in the past when Dr. Goldberg has made frivolous and unsubstantiated charges against the practice and its physicians.” The statement notes that Goldberg previously sued the group unsuccessfully in the state courts.