IU Ball Memorial among list of hospitals sued over allegations of falsified records
Two lawyers are suing 62 Indiana hospitals, including Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital, for allegedly falsifying records and defrauding taxpayers.
The federal civil lawsuit, filed by attorneys Michael Misch and Bradley Colborn from Anderson, Agostino & Keller, claims that hospitals violated provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provides grant funding to help hospitals manage electronic health record systems.
In order to receive grant money, hospitals must respond to at least 50 percent of the medical records requests they receive within three business days.
The hospitals named in the lawsuit, which was unsealed early last week after being filed more than a year ago by the South Bend law firm, are being accused of falsifying records in order to meet those requirements, defrauding taxpayers of more than $300 million.
According to court documents, the suit also claims hospitals allowed a third-party company, CIOX Health, to profit from the release of patients' electronic medical records, which violates state law and the federal Anti-Kickback Statue.
Misch and Colborn discovered these issues after working to obtain electronic medical records for unrelated personal injury and medical malpractices cases. The two tracked records requests made to four hospitals and compared the number of completed requests to those reported by the hospitals.
The lawyers added the other 58 hospitals to the lawsuit after finding correlations showing the hospitals were completing similar falsified requests.
In 2012, Ball Memorial reported no compliance figures claiming "an exemption," but the number suddenly rose to 260/260 in 2013, meaning the hospital claims that of the 260 record requests made, all 260 were met.
"Some of these hospitals just have odd numbers that have been entered," Colborn said. "We noted in our complaint, there are dozens of them that claim they have not received a single request, not one, which seems odd. And then there are other ones, which will report that they received hundreds in a given year and then in certain years they received zero, which is possible but it seems odd. That is the case with [Ball Memorial]."
Ball Memorial representatives declined to comment and referred all requests on the topic to be directed to the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA).
In a statement, IHA president Brian Tabor said the association is aware of the claim against the hospitals.
"We would note that, after an investigation of the facts alleged in the claim, the government chose not to intervene in this litigation,” Tabors said. “IHA cannot comment any further while the litigation is pending.”
Additional documents related to the case, including future hearings, remain sealed.
Colborn said "it's too early" to determine what will happen next as this is "just the beginning of the case."