Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hospital Whistleblower Lawsuit & Shannon

While visiting family in Virginia over Thanksgiving, I received a call from an anonymous source about a Justice Department investigation of our local non-profit community hospital. Just days later, the federal government released statistics on such cases. It obtained $3.1 billion in settlements for fraud, mostly against hospitals and health care providers as a result of whistleblower lawsuits.

The caller left documentation of the lawsuit at an agreed upon location. After reviewing the information it appears the Shannon Clinic, the physician multi-specialty group arm of Shannon Health System had both an internal whistleblower and a Justice Department investigation.

From the documents passed to me, the end result of the case isn’t clear, but I found the timing interesting and worthy of mention. The caller suggested this outstanding case to be the cause of the failed merger of Shannon Medical Center and Triad Hospitals. With no inside information, I have no idea if this is true or not. If so, my illusion that my newspaper piece fostered dialogue that caused Trustees to ditch the combination would be shattered.

A case number and any settlement details would confirm the closing of the qui tam lawsuit. Shannon’s leaders would need to speak as to its impact on the organization and any planned strategic moves.

Had the merger remained on track, Shannon would undergo a second Justice Department investigation, this time for anti-trust. It would be nice to know the outcome of the first one to see its bearing on the now unneeded second legal review.

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