Health Law Keyed to Furrow
United States ex rel. Mikes v. Straus
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Dr. Patricia S. Mikes (Plaintiff), a board-certified pulmonologist, was hired by Dr. Marc J. Straus (Defendant) as part of a physician's partnership called Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates. Plaintiff was hired specifically to provide pulmonary and critical care services. However, she was terminated after discussing her concerns regarding invalid spirometry tests being conducted in the office with Defendant. Spirometry encompasses various breathing tests which allow the doctors to evaluate the overall pulmonary or lung function of a patient. Plaintiff had observed that the partnership's failure to calibrate the Spirometry instruments caused the results to be false and unreliable. Plaintiff filed suit for retaliatory termination and wages unlawfully withheld. Plaintiff also initiated this qui tam suit pursuant to the False Claims Act alleging the partnership had submitted false Medicare reimbursement requests. The false charges were for the allegedly false spirometry tests and for false referrals for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) where the partnership held a financial interest in the facilities that provided the testing. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants finding Plaintiff's claims did not satisfy the standard for constituting fraudulent certification and finding that the MRI claims were vexatious. This appeal ensued.
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