- HCA announced it will pay $2 million to settle a False Claims Act case filed by Dr. Michael Fenster in 2010 alleging one of its hospitals in Georgia performed unnecessary and low-quality heart procedures.
- Fenster, previously the executive director of the cardiovascular program at Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, Georgia, alleged two physicians misled patients in order to get their consent to perform angioplasties and stent placements. He also alleged one of the physicians was not properly trained to perform those procedures and by doing so, caused harm.
- Fenster also alleged HCA and Fairview Park Hospital knew about these issues, yet concealed records about them and rejected his requests for closer supervision of the physician. According to the case, one of the doctors had been previously investigated prior to Fenster's employment at the hospital.
HCA came forward in 2012 and disclosed several of its hospitals had been reviewed in regards to the medical necessity of cardiology procedures. The U.S. attorney in Miami had requested information of those reviews the same year. Fairview was one of the hospitals that was reviewed, according to Colette Matzzie, a partner with the firm Phillips & Cohen, who represents Fenster.
"Dr. Fenster pursued this case against HCA for the past five years because his top priority is patient safety and health," Matzzie said. "He complained to upper management at both Fairview Park and HCA about cardiac procedures that were being done, and he provided supporting documentation, but his concerns were ignored."
According to the settlement document, "this settlement agreement is neither an admission or liability by HCA or FPH (Fairview Park Hospital) nor a concession by the United States and the state of Georgia that their claims are not well founded."
False Claim Act cases provide whistleblowers with a percentage of the recovered money. Fenster will receive $560,000, according to Modern Healthcare.
HCA operates more than 275 hospitals and surgery centers in 20 states and England. It's the largest for-profit hospital chain in the U.S. The company's third quarter revenues increased almost 7% to $9.85 billion.