U.S. inspectors subpoena files from hospital

Sun Staff

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' investigative arm has subpoenaed documents relating to laboratory testing at Maryland General Hospital, which is under state investigation for Medicaid fraud.

The 243-bed Baltimore hospital confirmed yesterday, after an inquiry by The Sun, that it had received a subpoena from HHS' Office of Inspector General. The subpoena, received May 11, sought information and records related to HIV and hepatitis testing conducted at the hospital from Jan. 1, 2002, through Aug. 30, 2003, the hospital said in a statement.

"Since receiving the request, we have been cooperating fully by providing documents to the Office of the Inspector General," spokesman Lee Kennedy said in the statement. "Several regulatory bodies are already reviewing matters related to the laboratory and its practices and significant strides have already been made to improve the operation of the laboratory."

HHS officials could not be reached last night for details.

In addition to the inspector general's probe, the Maryland attorney general's office is investigating whether the Baltimore hospital fraudulently billed the Medicaid program for lab tests that employees knew might be inaccurate. The state investigation came after state health inspectors found that equipment malfunctions and oversight problems at the hospital had caused its laboratory to send out HIV and hepatitis test results to 460 patients even though instrument readings indicated that the results might have been inaccurate.

The problems and subsequent investigation have led to the resignations of the hospital president and top lab officials.

State, federal and private agencies continue to monitor the laboratory's progress in correcting the problems.

In addition, the hospital faces a lawsuit filed in federal court by a doctor who formerly headed the hospital's anesthesiology department. In it, the doctor alleges that the hospital routinely overcharged the federal Medicare program for anesthesiology services.

The hospital emphasized yesterday that it has corrected problems in its lab and continues efforts to find and retest patients who had an HIV or hepatitis test between June 2002 and August 2003. It also has hired an outside firm to run its lab.

"Maryland General billed for tests that were, in fact, performed," the hospital's statement said. It added that in the cases of the more than 1,000 people retested for HIV and hepatitis C, 99.3 percent have confirmed the results of the original laboratory tests.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad