The federal investigation led to the ouster of three St. Joseph officials in May last year, along with Midei, who was removed from duty after the hospital initiated a review of his clinical practice "based on a patient complaint and the federal government's civil investigation," St. Joseph has said.

The hospital, which has revamped its physician oversight practices, reached an "agreement in principle" to settle the government's claims in July 2009, though it wasn't finalized until Tuesday, when the last signature was applied to the agreement.

The three whistle-blowers will share nearly $2.8 million of the settlement.

Once the settlement has been paid, the federal government will release St. Joseph from "any civil or administrative monetary claim the United States has or may have under the False Claims Act" and other laws.

It does not resolve any claims by or against individuals, and it doesn't preclude criminal charges. In fact, it requires that St. Joseph "cooperate fully" in the U.S. investigation of individuals not a party to the agreement.

St. Joseph President and Chief Executive Jeffrey K. Norman said in a statement that St. Joseph has cooperated "from the start of the U.S. Attorney's inquiry."

"Medical Center leadership operated from the belief that a cooperative and transparent approach guided by its faith-based system best served the interests of its patients and community and reflects our mission and values," Norman said.

The hospital is owned by Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, which has given St. Joseph a loan so the hospital can afford the settlement, which will be paid via electronic transfer by the end of the week, according to the agreement.

St. Joseph said it also signed a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of the Inspector General within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The [agreement] helps ensure that all conduct and activity going forward is in compliance with all regulations governing health care," St. Joseph said in a statement.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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