Hospital Billing Lawsuits Dismissed
Lawsuits alleging that Scripps Health and Sharp Healthcare inappropriately billed Medicare for treatments for conditions resulting from medical errors were dismissed last week, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Federal judges have dismissed 29 similar cases in California filed by consumer advocate Erin Brockovich.
The lawsuits cited a study estimating that medical errors cost Medicare $9.3 billion between 2002 and 2004. The lawsuits did not include specific proof that Scripps or Sharp had overbilled Medicare, but Brockovich and her attorneys said they would find such evidence during the discovery phase of the legal case.
The lawsuits sought repayment to the government from the hospitals, as well as double that amount in damages. Brockovich and her attorneys would have been eligible for a portion of the damages award.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan ruled that Brockovich did not have standing to bring the suits because she is not a Medicare beneficiary, did not receive treatment at the hospitals and was not injured by a medical error (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/16).