The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has settled two medical malpractice lawsuits against the hospital’s neurosurgeons, cases that stemmed from a federal false claims lawsuit alleging surgeons were incentivized to perform unnecessary procedures.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the lawsuits were settled shortly before the trials were to begin in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, but the settlement terms were not released. (The Post-Gazette story is available online at: http://bit.ly/2kntc5x.)
The federal false claims lawsuit is still pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District. The government claims that UPMC paid improper bonuses to neurosurgeons for the number of procedures performed and promoted medically unnecessary procedures. UPMC has denied the allegations.
One of the medical malpractice cases that were settled involved a patient suing a UPMC neurosurgeon over back operations performed on him in July and November 2010, procedures the plaintiff said were not medically necessary, according to court records. In the second lawsuit, a patient sued another UPMC neurosurgeon after a December 2008 back operation.
The federal whistleblower lawsuit alleged that those physicians and 11 others received improper financial inducements for increasing the complexity and number of procedures performed. UPMC denied impropriety, saying its “effort-based incentive compensation system” is employed by many hospitals.