A whistle-blower lawsuit, which was settled for $5 million and dismissed, had accused Tenet of paying kickbacks to doctors in return for patient referrals to its hospitals.
By Daniel Chang
Tenet Healthcare Corp., owner of four Miami-Dade hospitals, paid $5 million in December to settle a South Florida whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that the company paid kickbacks to doctors by allowing them to lease offices at below-market rates, among other favorable terms, in return for patient referrals — a violation of federal and state laws.
To settle the False Claims Act case, Tenet paid $4 million to the federal government — with $1 million of that going to the South Florida landlord who was the whistle-blower in the case — and an additional $1 million for legal fees and other costs. Tenet admitted no wrongdoing.
“There’s clearly a potential concern if a doctor is getting incentives from healthcare providers, whether that translates into that doctor doing more business with them, referring more patients to them, and on and on,” said Sal Barbera, a healthcare services administration professor at Florida International University and a former whistle-blower in a separate False Claims Act lawsuit filed against Tenet in 1997.
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