Florida Hospital Pays Millions Alleging Misdiagnoses and Fraud
Jacksonville-based Baptist Health is paying $2.5 million to settle claims in a whistle-blower lawsuit that it overcharged Medicare because its former Chief of Neurology misdiagnosed and mistreated patients with multiple sclerosis and other serious diseases.
In addition, Dr. Sean C. Orr had his license to practice medicine suspended in Florida over allegations of sexual misconduct with a patient.
The settlement agreement with Baptist Health says the health system does not admit wrong-doing, and will cooperate with the ongoing investigation. Justice Department officials are weighing whether to pursue charges against Orr for intentionally misdiagnosing scores of patients with dystonia, spasmodic torticollis or blepharospasm, and billing for unnecessary prescriptions for Botox and Xeomin.
Orr faced allegations against him in a 2012 civil whistle-blower lawsuit filed by Verchetta Wells, Baptist’s former neurology coordinator. Wells’ lawsuit also named Baptist Health and related corporate entities.
According to Baptist Health, Dr. Orr stopped seeing patients at Baptist in October 2011. In addition, Florida’s Board of Medicine suspended Orr’s medical license for a year and fined him $10,000 for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female patient.
Baptist Health has contacted every patient treated by Dr. Orr and offered them the opportunity to be reevaluated.
“This settlement sends a clear message that healthcare fraud will not be tolerated in our district, particularly when there is the potential for harm to patients,” said A. Lee Bentley III, the U.S. attorney based in Tampa, Fla.
Whistleblower Wells is set to receive over $400,000 as her share of the Baptist settlement.
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