Adventist Health System Sunbelt Healthcare in Altamonte Springs, Fla., has agreed to pay the government $2 million to settle allegations that it gave patients chemotherapy drugs that were left over from other patients.
The government alleged those actions led to improper claims to Medicare, TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
The settlement did not include any determination of liability. Adventist said in a statement Friday that “while we believe a number of the allegations in the litigation were overbroad and incorrect, in 2012 we voluntarily self-disclosed, rectified billing issues, and refunded monies to the government related to this issue.”
Adventist said it brought in two national patient safety experts in 2011 to perform an audit, reported the incident to the appropriate healthcare agencies and launched its own broader review. That review didn't identify any harms to patients because of the medication issue, but Adventist did “notify the small number of impacted patients and addressed their concerns.”
Adventist said it has since implemented new procedures, supervisory protocols, training and electronic dosing.
According to the government, the single-dose vials of chemotherapy drugs were meant to be used only once and on one patient. The drugs don't have any anti-microbial ingredients or preservatives, meaning that using them multiple times could be dangerous, the government alleged.
The drugs were allegedly misused between 2007 and 2011 at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute's East Orlando location, according to the government. The settlement also resolves allegations that some drugs were administered inappropriately, infusion services were upcoded and that some patients had to be treated because of those actions, according to the government.
Whistle-blower Heather Huddleston, a nurse who formerly managed four office locations for the hospital, brought the original lawsuit against Adventist under the False Claims Act. In successful False Claims Act cases, whistle-blowers are entitled to a share of any money recovered. Huddleston will receive $376,452.
Adventist Health System had operating revenue of $8.4 billion in 2014, according to the Modern Healthcare financial database.