Doctor Awarded Share of $4.5M Medical Fraud Settlement for Blowing Whistle

An Ohio podiatrist alleges Mobile Medical orchestrated a scheme to defraud the federal government through false claims and kickbacks.

Plaintiff Dr. Petkovic alleges that she became suspicious of medical fraud after beginning work at Mobile Medical in Akron, Ohio.  The doctor told a local news source, WKYC, that the medical services facility operated like an assembly line and she soon realized that it was a system of false claims and illegal kickbacks designed to commit Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Some examples of the medical fraud included filing claims for diabetic shoes that were not necessary, free dentures, eye glasses, and hearing aids as well as transportation. Generally, medical facilities cannot take on the additional costs of these extra perks and providing them in order to obtain business from Medicare or Medicaid is illegal.

After years of litigation, Mobile Medical agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle the medical fraud allegations. Dr. Petkovic will receive a portion of that award for initiating the whistleblower lawsuit that protects tax payers from fraudulent claims that drain limited resources from the federal government; however, the doctor, who also has a law degree, has stated she will continue with her claims against her former employer.

According to recent reports, the rate of medical fraud in the form of false claims submitted under Medicare and Medicaid is on the rise. The federal government has prioritized medical fraud with other crimes like violence and threats to national security and has poured resources into investigations.

Dr. Petkovic says that despite protection provided to whistleblowers under the False Claim Act, she lost her job with Mobile Medical and her career suffered some damage.

“It cost her her job. It really damaged her career but she came forward anyway and tried to make things right,” her attorney, Warner Mendenhall of Akron, told WKYC.

Reporting Medical Fraud

The government, and ultimately tax payers, are the victims of medical fraud. As the U.S. population ages, the elderly also bear the brunt of false Medicare and Medicaid claims draining desperately needed funds from the federal programs they and others, like impoverished children and the disabled, rely upon.

Medical fraud includes false billing or submitting bills that solicit overpayment for services, as well as more subtle forms of fraud, like offering illegal kickbacks to solicit Medicare and Medicaid business.

Employees who are courageous enough stop medical fraud at their place of employment should be aware that they are protected from retaliation under the federal False Claims Act and certain state laws.

Settlements and successful lawsuits initiated on behalf of the government also provide an award to whistleblowers. Awards are typically between 15 and 30 percent of any damages or settlement amounts. Often, damages and settlements in medical fraud lawsuits are in the millions, so whistleblower awards can be substantial.

If you suspect your healthcare employer is committing medical fraud, consider contacting the experienced medical fraud attorney. The attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher are currently investigating claims. Fill out the form on this page for a FREE and confidential case evaluation.