Lawsuit: Fairfax Nursing Home Forced Elderly to Undergo Useless Treatments; Settlement is $700,000
The allegations include billing Medicare for watching patients get dressed. Billions of dollars involved in such cases.
A Fairfax City-based nursing home agreed to settle and pay $700,000 on Feb. 13 in a nearly two-year lawsuit that accused the nursing treatment center of claiming Medicare for unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services.
Former employees of the Fairfax Nursing Center (FNC) filed the suit in May 2011, alleging the nursing center gave "excessive, medically unnecessary, or otherwise non-reimbursable physical, occupational, and speech therapy services" to 37 Medicare beneficiaries who were customers of FNC, according to the Department of Justice.
Some of the services, provided between January 2007 and December 2010, were allegedly given to obtain higher reimbursement rates.
“Today’s settlement is another example of the department’s efforts to hold skilled nursing facilities accountable for the rehabilitation therapy services they deliver to some of the most vulnerable in our society,” said Stuart F. Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
The False Claims Act has resulted in the collection of almost $10.2 billion from cases like this since January 2009, the Department of Justice said.
Former FNC therapists Christine Ribik, Nadine Kelly and Stephanie Beauregard filed the suit filed under the False Claims Act after allegedly witnessing the nursing center threaten to fire its employees if they discussed discharge options with patients.
They also accused Fairfax Nursing Center of claiming reimbursement when no skilled therapy services were provided. They noticed other employees claim skilled therapy time for watching patients dress themselves, or dragging patients who were completely debilitated and "close to death" around the facility.
The complaint said FNC would allegedly threaten its therapists to find a way to continue providing services even after a patient refused treatment and wouldn't benefit from it. One such patient allegedly had terminal cancer and couldn't benefit from therapy services yet continued to receive them, despite the patient's complaints, until the patient died.
"FNC management dictates in advance the treatment each patient will receive" without considering the patient's need or lack thereof, the complaint reads.
Ribik, Kelly and Beauregard will receive a collective $122,500 of the settlement funds.
The owners of FNC, Robert and Charmaine Bainum, also own The Gardens at Fair Oaks, at 4310 Forest Hill Dr., and The Woodlands Retirement Community, at 4320 Forest Hill Dr.
The Gardens at Fair Oaks offers therapy and a variety of special services for residents with dementia; it's not clear if those services were investigated in the course of the lawsuit.
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