The U.S. Justice Department says it has reached a settlement with a Jacksonville, Fla., doctor resolving a whistleblower’s allegations that he intentionally misdiagnosed patients so he could provide costly, unneeded services to them, for which he then billed Medicare, TRICARE, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
Dr. Sean Orr, a neurologist formerly employed by Baptist Neurology Inc. and Baptist Medical Center – Jacksonville, will pay the federal government $150,000 to settle the claims against him. While whistleblower cases filed under the False Claims Act almost always recover at least $1 million, Dr. Orr’s penalty was based on his ability to pay, the Justice Department explained.
Verchetta Wells, a former Baptist Neurology Inc. employee, filed the complaint against Dr. Orr under the whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act, which authorizes private individuals to sue on behalf of the U.S. government and share a percentage of any recovery. Ms. Wells was awarded $26,250 from the settlement with Dr. Orr.
According to Ms. Wells’ complaint, Orr knowingly misdiagnosed certain patients with various neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), which caused federal health care programs to be billed for medically unnecessary services and drugs. The alleged fraud occurred from September 2009 to April 2012, the Justice Department said.
The government settled related allegations against Baptist Health System Inc., the parent company of Baptist Neurology and Baptist Medical Center – Jacksonville last year for $2.5 million. Ms. Wells received a $424,155 award for her part of that settlement.
“Our office will relentlessly pursue physicians who misdiagnose and harm patients to satisfy their financial greed,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida, who helped prosecute the case. “We expect physicians to act honestly, with integrity, and in accordance with the approved standards of medical care. When they do not, we all suffer.”