Vanguard Healthcare, based in Brentwood, TN, has agreed to pay the federal government in excess of $18 million for ‘grossly substandard’ nursing home care provided to residents. Shockingly, this is the second time Vanguard has agreed to pay back the US government for worthless nursing home services.
If you work in a nursing home and have seen fraud, billing for worthless services, or widespread neglect of residents, you may be entitled to a large award as a nursing home whistleblower.
Learn more about your legal rights and options in bringing a qui tam lawsuit. Our lawyers are here to help guide you through the complicated legal process. Call us today, toll-free, for a totally confidential nursing home whistleblower case consultation.
Allegations Against Vanguard Healthcare
Like many other qui tam cases against nursing homes, the allegations against Vanguard Healthcare consisted of the company failing to provide the care it was paid to provide. In essence, Vanguard nursing homes are alleged to have accepted federal funding through Medicare in exchange for caring for elderly nursing home residents, then providing negligent care. When a company accepts federal funding on behalf of patients and then neglects its residents, this kind of fraud can be exposed by company insiders, like staff, therapists, nurses and executives.
Five of Vanguard’s nursing homes were found to be deficient in meeting the most basic of patient needs. This resulted in mismanagement of patient medication, widespread infections, failing to reposition bedbound patients resulting in bed sores, and allowing residents to suffer from malnutrition and dehydration.
The US attorney prosecuting the case, Don Cochran, stated as follows:
“Our elderly and vulnerable citizens who can’t care for themselves deserve far better treatment than what they were subjected to by Vanguard. . . The substandard care that many of these facilities’ residents endured while the companies were raiding the public coffers is deplorable.”
Fraudulent Billing on Top of Bad Care
In addition to allegations of neglecting its residents, it is alleged that Vanguard’s nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for certain services that were not provided.
“This nursing home chain allegedly neglected its patients and billed worthless services to Medicare and Medicaid in order to pad their bottom line” – Derrick Jackson, US Department of Health and Human Services
What Happens After a Settlement With the Federal Government?
Following this settlement, the government and Vanguard will enter into a CIA, or Corporate Integrity Agreement. This CIA will inevitably involve the federal government in Vanguard’s business dealings for a period of time, likely 5+ years. Through the Corporate Integrity Agreement, the government will monitor Vanguard’s staffing levels, budgets, care deficiencies and adverse incidents in its facilities. Reported adverse incidents include bedsores, falls, medication errors and wrongful death.
Will This Change Bad Corporate Behavior on the Part of Nursing Home Management Companies?
The hope is that stiff whistleblower settlements and federal fines will persuade nursing home corporations to do the right thing. That remains to be seen. In this specific circumstance, Vanguard previously settled with the federal government in 2011 for claims of overcharging Medicare for nursing home services in strikingly similar allegations to these.
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“Seniors rely on the Medicare and Medicaid programs to provide them with quality care and to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect. The Department will not tolerate nursing home operators that put their own economic gain ahead of the needs of their residents, and will continue to aggressively pursue those operators who bill Medicare and Medicaid for substandard nursing services.” — Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt from the Department of Justice