Dr bejjani lawsuit

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Sclabassi, M. Patrick K. CavanaughStephen J. Kirti DatlaJonathan L. DiesenshausJessica L. LazrisSarah C. An unbroken chain of entities with financial relationships connects the surgeons with the hospitals The surgeons' compensation varies with, or takes into account, the volume and value of their referrals The hospitals knew that the surgeons' compensation varied with, or took into account, referrals Healthcare spending is a huge chunk of the federal budget.

Medicare and Medicaid cost roughly a trillion dollars per year. And with trillions of dollars comes the temptation for fraud. Fraud is a particular danger because doctors and hospitals can make lots of money for one another. When doctors refer patients to hospitals for services, the hospitals make money. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

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But when hospitals pay their doctors based on the number or value of their referrals, the doctors have incentives to refer more. The potential for abuse is obvious and requires scrutiny. The Stark Act and the False Claims Act work together to ensure this scrutiny and safeguard taxpayer funds against abuse. The Stark Act forbids hospitals to bill Medicare for certain services when the hospital has a financial relationship with the doctor who asked for those services, unless an exception applies.

And the False Claims Act gives the government and relators a cause of action with which to sue those who violate the Stark Act.

Here, the relators allege that the defendants have for years been billing Medicare for services referred by their neurosurgeons in violation of the Stark Act. The District Court found that the relators had failed to state a plausible claim and dismissed their suit.

dr bejjani lawsuit

This appeal revolves around two questions: First, do the relators offer enough facts to plausibly allege that the surgeons' pay varies with, or takes into account, their referrals?

The answer to the first question is yes. The relators' complaint alleges enough facts to make out their claim. The surgeons' contracts make it very likely that their pay varies with their referrals.

And the relators also make a plausible case that the surgeons' pay is so high that it must take referrals into account. All these facts are smoke; and where there is smoke, there might be fire. The answer to the second question is the defendants.

The Stark Act's exceptions work like affirmative defenses in litigation. The burden of pleading these affirmative defenses lies with the defendant. This is true even under the False Claims Act. And even if that burden lay with the relators, their pleadings meet that burden here. We hold that the complaint states plausible violations of both the Stark Act and the False Claims Act. So we will reverse.The suit, which UPMC filed Tuesday, alleges attorney Michael O'Day violated the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct that govern lawyers in the state by using "high-pressure" tactics to create fear among patients about the state of their health to get them to join a possible legal action against UPMC.

Each of the patients Mr. O'Day allegedly solicited to join the legal action against UPMC suffer from Chiari malformation, an uncommon condition that causes brain tissue to extend into the spinal canal. O'Day told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is preparing a legal complaint against UPMC and has been in touch with the system's attorneys about a possible settlement. However, he said the suit UPMC filed against him is "baseless" and "frivolous. O'Day told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

He said the lawsuit he is preparing focuses on whether operations performed by Ghassan K. Bejjani, MD, a neurosurgeon at UPMC, on patients with Chiari malformation were necessary and whether the patients were properly notified that a plate would be inserted in their skulls as part of the surgery, according to the report. View our policies by clicking here. To receive the latest hospital and health system business and legal news and analysis from Becker's Hospital Reviewsign-up for the free Becker's Hospital Review E-weekly by clicking here.

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Before you keep reading, we ask you to join our membership program, Friends of Willamette Weekwhich helps support our journalism. Kim Wayson is one of approximately three dozen neurosurgeons in Portland. These are the men and women who are paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do everything from brain surgery to back operations. They are the fighter pilots of medicine, operating with maximum dexterity in regions of the body where there is little margin for error.

Lawsuit Alleges Overbilling by Some at UPMC

For 15 years, Wayson has been a member of this elite corps--and, for the most part, his patients have done well. However, he has also had a number of "bad patient outcomes," as they are referred to in medicine. In the past 11 years, three of his patients died, one patient lost function in a portion of his left side and two others suffered serious complications. Most recently, for example, one of his patients--an otherwise healthy man--mysteriously died last August after going into St.

Vincent's for a simple neck operation. Most of these patients or the families they left behind believe Wayson was somehow at fault. Today, he operates with full privileges at Providence St. Vincent and Providence Portland medical centers. It's beyond the scope of a layperson to assess Wayson's competence.

dr bejjani lawsuit

But peering into the circumstances of one surgeon's practice illustrates a larger concern about the medical profession: that the process for monitoring doctors--and, if necessary, revoking or limiting their licenses to practice--is secretive, complicated and, according to some observers, biased not toward the patient, but toward the physician. Says Larry Wobbrock, a medical-malpractice attorney, "The culture is 'protect your own' and 'circle the wagons.

Neuroscience is one of the most demanding fields in medicine. The discipline focuses on the human brain and the disks, vertebrae and spinal cord that make up the spine, as well as on peripheral nerves, such as those in the face or arms, and all the electrical firings, which carry human thought, motion and sensation.

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Doctors who choose the field become familiar with everything from subdural hematomas and brain tumors to nerve axons, carpal tunnel syndrome and slipped disks.

The field is split in two. Neurologists, the intellectuals of the field, diagnose and treat patients for everything from cluster headaches to tingling nerves. Neurosurgeons operate. They cut into brains and nerves.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 federal false claims lawsuit is still pending in the U.

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 Novemberprocedures the plaintiff said were not medically necessary, according to court records.

In the second lawsuit, a patient sued another UPMC neurosurgeon after a December 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.

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Shop Now: Search Products. All Fields Required. Sign Up. Help Search About Us.Neurosurgeon J. William Bookwalter was examining a colleague's patient who had back troubles when he made an unusual discovery: The operation that his colleague billed Medicare for was far more extensive than the one actually done, according to allegations contained in a lawsuit.

A review of two more back operations performed by UPMC neurosurgeon Ghassan Bejjani on another patient yielded the same result, including once when an insurer was billed twice for removal of the same back vertebrae. Another neurosurgeon who examined one of Dr. Bejjani's patients two months later found the same billing discrepancy that Dr. Bookwalter uncovered, which resulted in higher reimbursement for UPMC for work that was not done, the lawsuit said.

Bejjani's cases, but occasionally see someone as a second opinion," an unnamed UPMC neurosurgeon complained in a letter to UPMC Shadyside Hospital officials, a whistleblower lawsuit unsealed July 25 said. The three-count whistleblower lawsuit brought by Dr. Bookwalter, retired neurologist Robert Sciabassi and UPMC Presby Hospital surgical technician Anna Mitina - all former UPMC employees - outlined a wide array of overbilling practices and a culture that the lawsuit alleges prized payments from insurers over patient safety.

Previously, UPMC said it conducted an internal review of the billing matter and has cooperated fully with the U. But Dr. Attorney's office will no longer be involved in the case. In a statement Wednesday, UPMC said it reported billing irregularities as soon as they were discovered and would defend itself vigorously against any related claims. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.

Read preview. UPMC officials were out of the office Thursday and unavailable.

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Miethe Westview Press, Read preview Overview. Preker; April Harding World Bank, Breslaw New York University Press, Heffler, Stephen K. Donham, Carolyn S. Health Care Financing Review, Vol. Won, Darleen K. Sensenig, Arthur L.Represented by Del Sole Cavanaugh. Represented by Gardner Cornell, P. Represented by Suite Represented by United States Department of Justice. To request information suppression, updates, or additions, contact us about this docket.

Medical Malpractice Panel

All Rights Reserved. No calendar events were found for this docket. Need Password Help? Patrick K. Stephen J. Del Sole. Craig E. United States of AmericaPlaintiff. Colin Callahan. Stephen Allen Loney. Jonathan Lee Diesenhaus. Mitchell Lazris. Entries Calendar Events. Related 0. Extension of Time to File Document.

All future motions in this case will be governed by the undersigned's Practices and Procedures, and no briefing schedule will issue. If any party declines to consent, no stipulation or other filing is required.

Text-only entry; no PDF document will issue. This text-only entry constitutes the Order of the Court or Notice on the matter. Defendants are granted a page extension, and they are permitted to file a page memorandum in support of their forthcoming motion to dismiss Relators' Amended Complaint. The Relators are afforded the same extension for the purposes of their response. Attorney Craig E. Frischman terminated. The Reply attached to the Motion is deemed filed. All participants shall contact the undersigned's Chambers on a single telephone line, and Defendants' counsel shall coordinate the call.Chiari malformation - condition where the cerebellar tonsils are displaced out of the skull area into the spinal area, causing compression of brain tissue and disruption of CSF flow.

MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging; diagnostic device which uses a strong magnetic field to create images of the body's internal parts. Ghassan K Bejjani, M. Bejjani GK. Med Hypotheses. Acta Neurochir Wien. The predictive value of intraoperative somatosensory evoked potential monitoring: review of procedures. Neurosurgeons are highly educated and trained professionals, so for patients the experience can sometimes be intimidating. And for those who require surgery How do neurosurgeons decide when to recommend surgery?

Why is there so much variation in the technique used among surgeons? What should a patient ask their surgeon before agreeing to surgery?

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A man of tremendous energy and enthusiasm, Dr. Bejjani has seen numerous Chiari patients and his current research interests include why Chiari surgeries fail and the relationship between Chiari and intracranial hypertension. Approximately how many Chiari patients do you see a year?

B: Probably every week I seeso per year. In your estimate, what percent of people with Chiari end up having surgery? B: One out of three, maybe one out of four. It depends on what you call Chiari; a lot of the borderline cases that may be called Chiari are non-surgical.

What are your general guidelines for deciding if someone should have surgery?

Ghassan K Bejjani

B: I operate only if there are typical symptoms and there is no other etiology for the symptoms, such as coexistent systemic or neurological diseases, secondary gains or psychological issues.

On one side, the symptoms of Chiari can be similar to those seen in a variety of systemic, traumatic, neurological as well as psychiatric entities; and on the other "radiologically" significant Chiari malformation may be completely asymptomatic. There really aren't a lot of objective findings you can rely on to confirm your diagnosis, other than the lack of venous pulsations that are not very specific.

Also I take into consideration the severity of the symptoms and how they are affecting the quality of life of every individual patient: some can deal with the symptoms without any major handicap, while other are severely disabled by their disease. And the last factor is the morbidity of the surgery. Do you do a cine MRI for everyone? B: I do a cine for everybody, but I'm not sure about its true clinical significance at this point.

dr bejjani lawsuit

It is however, becoming one of the various elements used in the decision-making process, although the main factor is still the overall clinical impression. So you form an impression between your neuro exam and the symptoms they report? B: Yes, especially the symptoms. I look at the symptoms mainly.

Is the patient psychologically stable? And that's where the main trick is, because symptoms can lead to secondary psychological problems. That's one thing I'd like to research in a surgical outcome study. Do psychological profiles differ before and after surgery, because symptoms can put you on the edge and lead to secondary psychological alterations.

I saw a lady today in the office who had typical Chiari symptoms for 15 years a typical Chiari on MRI, and she's been told she's crazy for the past 10 years.

Your affect becomes different when everyday, everyone is telling you this. So you have to put everything into context. Then I tell the patient about the potential outcomes of surgery and the potential risk.

When you see a lot of patients, you get an idea of who will do well with surgery, although there are always surprises.


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