Neurologist Alleges Retaliation Over Hospital Scheme to Airlift Stroke Patients
A neurologist filed an amended complaint in a Pennsylvania federal court, accusing Jefferson Healthcare System Inc. and Beebe Healthcare in Delaware of retaliating against him for reporting an alleged scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid. The scheme involved transferring stroke patients between the two hospitals via helicopter, which Dr. Scheer claims violated Medicaid and Medicare laws requiring patients to be transferred to the nearest appropriate facility.
According to Dr. Scheer's complaint, the two healthcare providers, Jefferson and Beebe, engaged in a conspiracy. Beebe Healthcare would send its stroke patients to Jefferson Healthcare in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, via helicopters. In return, Jefferson would provide free "tele-stroke" services to Beebe. Tele-stroke involves remote evaluation of stroke patients by a physician controlling a robot at the patient's location to administer timely treatment.
Dr. Scheer alleges that this scheme, ongoing from 2010 to 2020, jeopardized patients' health by diverting them from closer hospitals. The motive behind this arrangement was purportedly to extend the reach of Jefferson's helicopter services while increasing revenue by treating more ischemic stroke patients, who were more profitable due to the higher level of care required.
Dr. Scheer eventually reported his concerns about the patient transfers, emphasizing that the travel time put patients at risk. Allegedly, he was met with dismissive responses and was told to accept the situation. Despite his objections, Dr. Scheer was terminated in 2020, which he contends was retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.
Beebe also refuted the allegations, stating that Dr. Scheer reported the conspiracy only after his termination, and the complaint lacked factual support for its claims.
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