Erlanger whistle-blower lawsuit will not bring prosecution

Erlanger whistle-blower lawsuit will not bring prosecution

May 4th, 2012 by Mariann Martin in News

Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

State and federal prosecutors have declined to pursue a whistle-blower lawsuit that says Erlanger Health System made false Medicare claims, a second such decision within the last month.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2011 by Robert Whipple, who worked as an auditing consultant for Affiliated Computer Services Inc., at the hospital in 2006. The suit alleges that Erlanger used fraudulent billing practices in categorizing patients and for certain procedures.

The lawsuit was sealed while state and federal attorneys investigated, but both parties declined to intervene in the case, filing paperwork to that effect Monday.

"Erlanger is confident in our billing procedures and compliance programs," said Erlanger interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson in an emailed statement Thursday. "Erlanger takes all legal matters and allegations of this sort very seriously, and has worked very closely with government officials throughout their investigation."

In April, prosecutors declined to pursue another whisteblower case, filed by Lisa K. Stratienko in 2010. However Stratienko has 120 days to pursue the case.

In his 46-page lawsuit, Whipple asserted several employees at the hospital did not take action when he pointed out the improper billing practices.

Whipple's lawyer, Cynthia Cutler, could not be reach for comment.

The hospital's attorney, Brian Roark, declined to comment.