False Claims Act defendant Mahendra Amin, M.D. is back in the news for allegations of medically unnecessary procedures on detained immigrants.
In April 2015, the United States and the State of Georgia announced a False Claims Act settlement with the Hospital Authority of Irwin County and certain doctors in a qui tam lawsuit that Julie and I filed.
While the monetary settlement was of a relatively nominal amount, we were gratified by what we understood to be a Corporate Integrity Agreement that would significantly improve patient care in this rural area. Although this was one of our smallest settlements in dollars, it was one of our proudest and most important accomplishments as False Claims Act attorneys.
One of the defendants in that action, Dr. Mahendra Amin, is back in the news as a whistleblower has alleged that Dr. Amin gave unnecessary hysterectomies to women detained at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility. And so our case and our former clients are also back in the news as well, with the complaint and settlement having been re-published by prominent media.
We do not represent the new whistleblower, and so we have no comment on these new horrific allegations. We can say that we are deeply saddened if they are true. Our original False Claims Act complaint and the resulting settlement speak for themselves, and so they too require no additional comment.
Whistleblowers Uncover That Which Outside Observers Cannot
So instead, I will use this opportunity to speak of the tremendous value of whistleblowers. Someone recently pointed out to me that when you look up synonyms for whistleblowers on thesaurus.com, this is what you get:
These are not exactly positive connotations. And whistleblowers have been highly politicized of late, as either champions of truth or lying traitors, depending on your political affiliations.
But it was a whistleblower – a licensed practical nurse – who shed light on the horrific acts taking place in immigrant detention facilities. There is no monetary reward in this for her. She did it because it was the right thing to do.
It was a whistleblower who stopped Dr. Farid Fata from putting otherwise healthy patients through dangerous and debilitating cancer treatments. It is whistleblowers who protect our military by reporting defective equipment purchased from major defense contractors. These are not “snitches” or “turncoats.” These are heroes who have risked their careers, and sometimes their lives, to make the world a better place for us all.
Whistleblowers Save Lives
In all of these instances, there were dozens of witnesses privy to the fraud and harm to patients or the military. However, there were only one or two people with the analytical skills to realize that something was wrong and the integrity to do something about it. It takes a special breed of person to question the propriety of what they are seeing when nobody else seems to be concerned. It is hard for a nurse to question the actions of a doctor, or for a low-level employee to question the assurances of a CEO.
We assume that the “experts” know what they are doing, and as Malcolm Gladwell examines in his book Talking to Strangers, humans “default to truth”. This means we assume that people are honest and well-meaning unless they give us reason to doubt them (and often, we continue to do so well after they give us many reasons to doubt them).
In my post How the False Claims Act Could Bring Down Al Capone, I discussed how even though the scope of the False Claims Act is essentially limited to false claims of reimbursement, allegations of technical billing violations can sometimes open the door for much larger prosecutions.
Allegations of Anti-Kickback Statute violations or over-billing for services give the government an avenue to investigate and punish medical providers who may also be engaging in unsafe practices. In our dental fraud case, the dentist was accused of up-coding his services when billed to Medicaid, but he lost his license due to accusations that he was abusing patients and spreading infection. Tax evasion isn’t sexy, but it can bring down murderers. The False Claims Act – a monetary recovery statute – can similarly save lives.
Contact Bracker & Marcus LLC Today
You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t even have to be certain something is wrong. We offer free consultations because we don’t expect you to have all the answers. It is our job as False Claims Act lawyers to figure out if what feels wrong in your gut is illegal or not.
You have nothing to lose and much to gain by giving us a call or sending us an email and letting us hear your story.