WASHINGTON - Wheaton Community Hospital, the City of Wheaton, Minn. and Dr. Stanley Gallagher (collectively WCH) have agreed to pay $846,461 to settle allegations that their hospital admission practices violated the False Claims Act, the Justice Department announced today.
This settlement resolves allegations that WCH knowingly made false claims to Medicare for unreasonable and unnecessary hospital admissions. Specifically, the government contended that, from 1998 to 2004, WCH admitted some patients and kept others admitted to acute care when doing so was not medically necessary. The defendants then billed Medicare for the cost of these hospital admissions.
"Hospitals and doctors have a responsibility to provide patients with reasonable and necessary care. When they neglect those obligations, patients and taxpayers suffer," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Division.
The allegations against WCH arose from a lawsuit filed in federal court in Minnesota under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private individuals to file civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. Dr. Steven Radjenovich, the whisteblower in this case, formerly practiced at Wheaton Community Hospital with Dr. Gallagher. Dr. Radjenovich will receive $203,150 as his share of the settlement with WCH.
Assistant Attorney General West thanked the Justice Department's Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General for their efforts in handling this investigation and settlement.
The case is entitled United States ex rel. Steven Radjenovich v. Stanley Gallagher, et al., Case No.: 04-4538 (D. Minn.).