Medical company settles whistle-blower lawsuit

Wisconsin residents should be able to trust that their doctors are making decisions about their health care based on knowledge and expertise, not bribes or profits. This is why it is illegal for medical companies to provide hospitals or doctors with kickbacks for using or prescribing their products–doctors should make decisions based on the patient’s needs, not undue influences.

Yesterday, a medical device company agreed to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by an employee who accused the company of paying kickbacks to doctors and hospitals that purchased its radiation treatments.

According to the lawsuit, the medical company paid doctors and hospitals to prescribe its brachytherapy seeds–a medical device that is implanted into the prostate in order to send radiation to cancer cells.

A former contracts administration officer for the company complained to her supervisors about the illegal kickback scheme after she learned of it. The company did not stop this practice after she complained, and she ultimately filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against her employer in 2006.

The U.S. government joined the lawsuit, and the company has now agreed to pay $48.2 million to resolve the claims. The whistle-blower will receive $10.1 million of that settlement.

When whistle-blowers file lawsuits, they are generally entitled to share in any recovery that the government obtains.

This case is an example of how important whistle-blowers are, as they often bring to light dangerous and harmful wrongdoing. It is very risky to blow the whistle on one’s employer; whistle-blowers are often illegally retaliated against by their employers, and there is no guarantee the government will join a whistle-blower’s lawsuit. Those who are interested in blowing the whistle on their employers may benefit from seeking legal counsel beforehand to ensure that they are prepared for the important journey ahead.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Bard settles Ga. whistleblower suit for $48 million,” Bill Rankin, May 13, 2013

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