Recent wrongs: records theft, rape, a fatal benign tumor and the FCA mis-pleaded

by • May 1, 2008 • UncategorizedComments Off on Recent wrongs: records theft, rape, a fatal benign tumor and the FCA mis-pleaded1362

The Feburary issue of the Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter ( contained four cases of note.

In a Texas case a patient, who was in a rush for a second opinion from another facility, stole his medical chart and fled. He was not willing to wait a day for copies. The court noted that while patients have the right to the access and control of their data under HIPAA, the chart itself belongs to the hospital.

In a Washington state case, a male nurse raped a developmentally-challenged female patient. The patient was awarded $2.5 million by the state. The nurse manager reportedly had warned management of the nurse’s instability, and the nurse had a documented track record of unprofessional behavior.

In a case where a 64-year-old patient had a benign rectal tumor removed, a nasogastic tube was misplaced into the lungs and left there for three days. The patient developed pneumonia, which led to cough, which led to rupture of the rectal wound, which led to the need for a second surgery, which resulted in death of the patient. $2 million was awarded in this Texas case.

A nurse in Tennessee sued a hospital under the False Claims Act alleging compromised patient-care issues such as using non-licensed personnel for license-level duties. The court rejected applying the FCA in the case, reasoning that someone’s opinion that care was below a professional level is not actionable under the FCA. The court said such care was not “worthless care” as in cases where care simply was not done and then billed for.

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