Hospital whittled down claims to reach summary judgment
A federal judge recently determined that there is no admissible evidence left to accuse George Washington University (GWU) of overbilling the government for anesthesia services, which ended a marathon legal fight that began in 1998.
That was the year that four certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) formerly employed by GWU filed a lawsuit claiming that the hospital submitted false claims to Medicare for reimbursement of anesthesia procedures. The claims were fraudulent, they alleged, because GWU regularly said the anesthesia procedures had been performed entirely by a licensed anesthesiologist when parts of the anesthesia process had been performed by residents or CRNAs.
The hospital and the plaintiffs fought for 18 years, with GWU able to systematically eliminate many of the claims. Finally U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, JD, issued an 18-page opinion that ended the saga by granting GWU's motion for summary judgment. "As the factual background tracing the slow narrowing of this case shows, relators have not provided any evidence that would be admissible at trial to prove their allegations as to 2,579 medical procedures for which they assert GWU knowingly submitted a false claim," she wrote. The court had upheld objections by GWU in the past year that precluded plaintiffs from introducing evidence related to 2,162 of the total 2,579 Medicare claims.
Two newer orders held that the remaining alleged false claims also were unsupported by admissible evidence.
"As a result of these rulings, and the rulings coming before them, there is no longer a 'genuine dispute as to any material fact' regarding whether GWU knowingly submitted false Medicare claims," the judge wrote. "In short, in light of the various motions in limine limiting the evidence on which relators can rely, relators lack a triable case in this matter. The court has no choice but to grant summary judgment on the body of evidence (or lack thereof) before it."