Federal judge dismisses false-claims lawsuit against Lawrence hospital

The Lawrence Memorial Hospital emergency room sign is shown in this file photo from 2008.

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a long-running False Claims Act lawsuit filed against Lawrence Memorial Hospital by a former LMH nurse.

The nurse, Megen Duffy, filed the lawsuit in 2014 in federal court in Kansas City, Kan. Duffy claimed that LMH’s Emergency Department falsified the arrival times of patients with chest pains to conceal the amount of time they spent in the waiting room, at registration or in triage. She said the records were meant to maximize the amount of reimbursement money from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

LMH Health consistently denied Duffy’s claims, and on Tuesday District Court Judge Sam A. Crow found no proof that any quality data reported by the hospital affected its Medicare reimbursement.

“Throughout this process, Lawrence Memorial Hospital resolutely defended its practices and procedures as they related to this lawsuit,” said Russ Johnson, president and CEO of the hospital, in a news release Wednesday afternoon. “We are pleased to have a definitive ruling from the court that agrees with our position.”

Johnson said that defending the lawsuit was expensive and time-consuming.

“It has cost this community hospital over one million dollars,” he said in the news release. “That is money that could have been used for providing care and services to people who need them so much. That is the real tragedy in this frivolous lawsuit.”


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