ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) - The allegations are shocking, a local clinic has agreed to pay more than $3.7 million to settle claims it had cancer patients in its office longer than necessary to make extra money.
Elizabethtown Hematology and Oncology is a place few people would choose to be. It administers drugs to treat cancer and other diseases. According to a lawsuit filed by Kentucky attorney John Caudill, it was the practice at EHO to take six to eight times as long as was medically necessary to get those drugs.
"What you're taking away from these people is something that's probably the most important thing that they have at that point in their lives, which is time," he said. "There's a patient coming to their doctor, trusting them with their lives and their doctor says, 'Sit there three or four more hours. We'll take care of you.' Five or six more hours, 'We'll take care of you.'"
Caudill represented a former member of the practice, who said the doctors were taking care of themselves, adding the payments they got from the federal government.
"They pay for the first 90 minutes one rate and then for every successive hour, they pay another rate," he explained, "so the longer the patient sits there, the more the provider can bill Medicare."
Caudill and his client filed a whistleblower suit on behalf of the government, saying the clinic had inflated its claims to Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs, costing taxpayers almost $2 million.
Just this week, the U.S. Attorney announced EHO has agreed to pay $3.7 million to settle the suit.
An attorney for Doctors Rafiq Rahman and Yusuf Deshmukh saying, "Elizabethtown Hematology and Oncology and its practitioners expressly denied any liability. There were no allegations of patient harm."
The statement blamed Caudill's whistle-blower suit on a disgruntled ex-member of the practice.
Caudill said, "He's a disgruntled former employee who the government investigated allegations from and confirmed to the extent that the defendant paid $3.7 million so if he was disgruntled, he was disgruntled and correct."
The settlement reimburses the government for the money it allegedly lost but Caudill says he's been contacted by patients who feel they lost time, and they'll have to work with attorneys on their own if they want to recover any damages.
Because his client filed the suit on behalf of the government, he'll share in the settlement to the tune of $283,000. To view the lawsuit, click here.
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