Northern District of Illinois Federal Judge Ruben Castillo dismissed the whistle-blower lawsuit brought by Robert S. Goldberg, M.D. against Rush University Medical Center, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, LLC and other named orthopedic surgeons under the provisions of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §3727 et seq. The lawsuit,Robert S. Goldberg, M.D. and June Beecham v. Rush University Medical Center, et al., 04-CV-04584, was brought in the federal court by Dr. Goldberg claiming that Rush University Medical Center, along with the orthopedic surgeons and their physicians group, had been overbilling Medicare.
Chicago medical malpractice attorney Robert Kreisman was interviewed by The Chicago Tribune’s Melissa Harris in an attempt to shed some light on the judge’s decision in Goldberg. While Illinois lawsuits involving doctors and hospitals typically are regarding medical negligence that has occurred, in the case of Goldberg, the Illinois lawsuit involved accusations made by one of Rush’s orthopedic surgeons of fraudulent activities committed against the government. These types of case, where a plaintiff brings forth an action because he or she believes that the government has been defrauded, are called whistleblower cases.
The fraud at issue in Goldberg was that a group of orthopedic surgeons at Rush University Medical Center were violating Medicare billing requirements when they overbooked surgeries and through their heavy reliance on residents to perform parts or all of the surgeries. Rush is a teaching hospital and is compensated for training its residents, not for allowing its residents to perform unsupervised surgical procedures.