Orlando Health hit with whistleblower suit alleging forced referrals

An orthopedic surgeon is suing Orlando Health and three of its subsidiaries, alleging the health system violated federal law by requiring him to perform surgeries and make referrals within its network only. When he refused to comply, he was fired, according to MedPage Today, which cited court documents.

In the lawsuit, which was unsealed earlier this month, Ayman Daouk, MD, alleges he was fired for violating Orlando Health's "mandatory self-referral" policy. He claims the policy takes away "patients' freedom of choice," according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The lawsuit, which the federal government declined to intervene in, alleges specific violations of Stark Law. Because Orlando Health owns the facilities it allegedly requires physicians to refer patients to, "there exists an unbroken chain of financial relationships that renders these referrals as violations" of Stark Law, states the complaint.

Dr. Daouk further alleges physicians received payments and benefits in exchange for referring to facilities owned by Orlando Health, a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute. 

Representatives from Orlando Health told MedPage Today the health system does not comment on pending litigation.

Though the Department of Justice declined to join Dr. Daouk's case, he can pursue the case on his own.

Access the full MedPage Today article here.

Access the full Orlando Sentinel article here.

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