Personal Injury

Whistleblower tips prompted closure of Mississippi cancer clinic

osha whistle Whistleblower tips prompted closure of Mississippi cancer clinicTips from a group of whistleblowers led to the July 2011 closing of a multi-million cancer treatment facility in Summit, Miss., and the prison sentences of its founder and key employees, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.

The Mississippi Health Department shuttered the Rose Cancer Center for its “unsafe infection control practices” after 11 of the clinic’s patients were hospitalized with the same bacterial infection. Subsequent investigations led to the prosecution of Dr. Meera Sachdeva, who started the clinic in 2005 and received 20 years in federal prison for health care fraud and two counts of making false statements. Dr. Sachdeva was also ordered to pay $8.2 million in restitution.

Kristi Beeson, a former lab technician at the Rose Cancer Center, told the Clarion-Ledger that she became suspicious of the clinic’s operations after working for about a year there. She said that she and others were told in meetings to correct irregularities in the clinic’s records for an audit. After she “fit the pieces of the puzzle together” and discussed the problem with her husband, Ms. Beeson gave the clinic her two weeks’ notice the next day, but “other events that unfolded with the doctor that evening” prompted her to not return to the clinic.

Ms. Beeson told the Clarion-Ledger that she “contacted authorities and made them aware of what all had taken place in the last few days.” She then became one of four Rose Cancer Center employees to blow the whistle on the fraudulent activities taking place within the clinic.

She told the Clarion-Ledger:

“It took a financial strain on my family as I no longer had a job. Physically, throughout all the stress of meeting with several investigators and having to make statements and travel back and forth from wherever my husband was working to where I needed to meet up with investigators; Mentally, it was nerve wrecking to have to deal all the meetings and then after bad news upon bad news that unfolded about the case and what innocent patients had to suffer through was just unbearable.”

Prosecutors alleged that the clinic reused syringes, potentially exposing patients to HIV and other infections, and drew from one bag chemotherapy drugs for different patients.

Federal Judge Daniel Jordan III said that the way Dr. Sachdeva treated patients who entrusted their care to her during a vulnerable time in their lives was appalling.

Two other Rose Cancer Center employees who aided Dr. Sachdeva in her deceptive practices received prison and house-arrest sentences, the Associated Press reported.

Sources:

Jackson Clarion-Ledger
Associated Press