Although advocates of hospice care cite better end-of-life satisfaction, a gulf exists between this pain-relieving care and the administration of life-saving care.
Whistleblowers and families are fighting back: Over 30 cases were opened last year and federal hospice investigations rose 50% from 2008 to 2010.
Misty Wall, an ex-employee of VistaCare, claims widespread fraud. Her job was to convince patients they were not going to survive, in order for them to consider hospice care. Kickbacks were offered to patients and employees who referred new patients. Doctor-shopping guaranteed patient certification for hospice care. Patients were sent on beach holidays and gambling trips with Medicare funds. Forced weight-loss was also mandated to convince Medicare auditors that patients were dying. Vistacare claims Ms. Wall is not expertly qualified to determine proper treatment procedures.
Vitas is another hospice company that is under much legal scrutiny. In one case, a 91-year-old woman was left untreated. Eventually, 11 maggots were discovered in her big toe and she died of sepsis soon thereafter.
Vitas also denied one California whistleblower the privilege to stay with a suffering and dying woman, even after he offered to stay for free. She died one to two hours later.
Another Vitas case involved a nurse who left after claiming her prostate cancer patient was comfortable. The next morning, the patient's wife -- who had Parkinson's -- was found lying next to his deceased body, calling his name.
Another case documents the misadministration of a drug, which led directly to an elderly patient's death, despite the bottle warning against feeding the drug to elderly patients.
Dallas' Attorney General is now suing Vitas for Medicaid/Medicare fraud and falsifying data.
As a practicing medical malpractice, wrongful death, and personal injury attorney in New York, I deal with nursing home and hospice care abuse like this often. If you would like more information about how medical malpractice and negligence cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website http://www.oginski-law.com. If you have legal questions, I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.