"Hospitalist" company settles False Claims Act allegations

by Ben Vernia | July 8th, 2013

On July 3, the Department of Justice announced the Sound Inpatient Physicians, Inc., of Tacoma, Washington, has agreed to pay $14.5 million to resolve a whistleblower’s allegations that the provider of “hospitalist” physicians – inpatient specialists – had overbilled federal health care programs. According to DOJ’s press release:

Sound Inpatient Physicians Inc. will pay $14.5 million to settle allegations that it overbilled Medicare and other federal health care programs, the Justice Department announced today. Sound Physicians is a Tacoma, Wash.-based provider of hospitalists and other physicians to hospitals and other medical facilities. It employs more than 700 hospitalists and post-acute physicians, who provide services at 70 hospitals and a growing network of post-acute facilities in 22 states.

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Today’s settlement addresses allegations that, between 2004 and 2012, Sound Physicians knowingly submitted to federal health benefits programs inflated claims on behalf of its hospitalist employees for higher and more expensive levels of service than were documented by hospitalists in patient medical records. Hospitalists are physicians, typically trained in internal medicine, who provide care exclusively to hospital inpatients and have no office or outpatient practice.

The qui tam relator, a former employee of the company, will receive $2.7 million (an 18.6% relator’s share), DOJ announced.

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