Vanderbilt University Medical Center Faces Whistleblower Suit

Former employees of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., have filed a lawsuit alleging the hospital fraudulently billed Medicare for several years, according to a Tennessean report.

The suit was filed in 2011 but unsealed this week, according to the report. Plaintiffs include three anesthesiologists who were formerly employed by VUMC.

The suit claims VUMC double-booked attending physicians for surgeries, violating CMS' Medicare billing guidelines, but the hospital billed as if it had complied, according to the report. The plaintiffs also claim VUMC reported anesthesiology services as "medically directed" to payers, even though it allegedly rarely complied with steps to classify them as such.  

The plaintiffs allege the hospital encouraged physicians to refrain from writing notes by hand in records about certain aspects of surgery, such as how many rooms physicians were covering, according to the report.

The lawsuit does not specify an estimate of total damages nor how many claims are in question, according to the report. It does ask for a judgment at three times the actual alleged overpayments, though.

A VUMC spokesperson said the system finds the allegations meritless, and it prepared to "defend itself vigorously," according to the report.

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