Halifax Health: Whistleblower used protected documents in suit

Adding to the saga of alleged false billing at Florida's Halifax Health Medical Center, the hospital said an employee used improperly obtained documents to form a whistleblower lawsuit, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

The issue dates back to July 2009, when Halifax Staffing Director of Physician Services Elin Baklid-Kunz originally filed the suit, which claimed the hospital overbilled Medicare by tens of millions of dollars for years and that Halifax had improper financial relationships with the physicians.

The hospital's lawyers claim Baklid-Kunz sought advice from the hospital's legal department and then filed her whistleblower complaint in what they called an "an intentional, clandestine act." Moreover, they said the documents can't be used in court because they are protected by attorney-client privilege and work-product laws, noted the News-Journal.

According to court documents, Baklid-Kunz's attorneys said the suit came from information collected during the 17 years she worked at the hospital.

Last September, the U.S. Department of Justice joined the false claims lawsuit against Halifax and its staffing company for allegedly violating Stark law.

According to the DoJ, the government has recovered a record-setting $2.8 billion in false claim cases with the help of whistleblowers in fiscal year 2011, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Of those recoveries, $2.4 billion involved fraud committed against federal healthcare programs, mostly targeted at Medicare and Medicaid.

For more information:
- read the News-Journal article
- here's the FierceHealthcare article on fraud recoveries