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Whistle Blower Suit Filed at Rush University – Orthopedic Surgery Safety and Medicare Violations

Posted Jul 10 2010 9:58am

This case goes back to surgical procedures done at the hospital a few years ago questioning safety and whether or not the surgeons were in the room the entire time during procedures.  The government has not intervened thus far.

From what I read here part of the issue seems to involve the compensation one doctor received from Zimmer Holdings for training other doctors, over $2 million and that’s a big chunk of change that seems to play here with this case.  Whistle blowers do stand to gain financially with cases that are proven.  BD image

A group of doctors at Rush University Medical Center 's prestigious orthopedic department routinely overbooked their schedules and relied heavily on residents to perform surgeries, violating federal Medicare billing rules, according to a newly unsealed whistle-blower lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The suit alleges that in one instance, a surgeon never entered the operating room to supervise a procedure. In others, a surgeon monitored residents performing operations via video feed while simultaneously performing his own operations in nearby rooms.

The lawsuit, filed by another Rush surgeon, Dr. Robert Goldberg, along with a former hospital executive, portrays Rush's orthopedic center as a business focused on quantity over quality, risking patient health in pursuit of "monetary rewards and celebrity status." To do that, doctors sidestepped specific Medicare billing rules that require teaching physicians to be present during critical portions of procedures, the suit said.

Among the group, Dr. Richard Berger is the most high profile. He pioneered "minimally invasive" hip-replacement surgery and for many years was a star consultant for Zimmer Holdings , an implant-maker.

In a statement, the hospital said, "Rush believes that the lawsuit has no merit and intends to vigorously defend the case."

On April 22, 2004, the complaint alleges, Sheinkop, who performs hip and knee replacements, never entered operating room 9 to perform a knee replacement on a 67-year-old patient. He performed another procedure in operating room 7.

In 2008, the Tribune reported about his relationship with Zimmer Holdings, which paid Berger handsomely, more than $2 million in 2007, for training other doctors and promoting Zimmer devices.

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