Can physicians always tell when a patient has less than 6 months to live? And if they misjudge, is that fraud?
A registered nurse and three nonclinicians filed a federal False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against Care Alternatives, a for-profit hospice in Cranford, New Jersey, claiming the hospice illegally admitted at least 16 patients who were not in their last 6 months of life and so did not qualify for Medicare hospice coverage.
The whistleblowers’ medical expert, Robert Jayes, MD, testified that the patients’ medical records did not back up the hospice medical director’s prognosis of imminent death and thus did not support a certification of need for hospice care. The hospice’s medical expert disagreed, testifying that a physician could reasonably have determined that the life expectancy of each of those patients was 6 months or less. The whistleblowers were all former staffers.
A federal district judge held that a