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Doctors Demand Justice for Patient Advocate Whistleblower

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Washington- No one is safe when hospitals put profit before patients. Recent revelations of continued fraud at hospitals belonging to the chain of for-profits known as the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA, formerly known as Columbia-HCA) continue to shock the conscience of a people already reeling from fraud in the banking, mortgage and financial sectors. Will a medical meltdown be next? Public safety advocates have asked Congress to mandate special protections for medical whistleblowers. HCA has faced the largest false claims suits in history, and had paid more than $1.7 Billion dollars in fines for bilking taxpayers and patients. Despite these huge payouts, HCA apparently continues the misconduct that led to its already enormous fines. With 17% of the US GNP devoted to medical care, and with increasing amounts of bailout money going to health, the need for protection has never been greater.

Many prominent public interest groups, including the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW) and the Semmelweis Society International (SSI), demand justice for one of the most  energetic and effective doctor-whistleblowers in the nation, Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru. This doctor, who has done more to promote public safety and honesty in medicine, has received death threats, and suffered brutal retaliation from a corrupt hospital that used fraud and deceit, and a sham and futile peer reveiw to literally strip this eminent doctor of his medical license and livelihood.
IAW by James Murtagh

 


Vuyyuru was a cooperating witness in a prominent FBI investigation of Virginia hospitals in the HCA chain. Vuyyuru produced extensive evidence of false billing, and of patient endangerment and even death in grand jury documents, and in a string of civil suits that are ground-breaking in their defense of the rights of patients to expect quality and safe care, and for taxpayers not to be bilked for improper charges.

 


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Vuyyuru's conscience did not permit him to stop even when he received death threats, and threats on his family. The pressure for him to stop the exposure became so intense that he sent his young child out of the country to avoid danger.

 


As political pressure apparently slowed the multi-faceted investigation of HCA -Virginia, Vuyyuru went to the next level and started a newspaper, The Virginia Times, to alert the public.

 

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HCA took revenge and savagely robbed the patient advocate doctor of his livelihood. Court documents, and independent investigations by the IAW and SSI, reveal that HCA-Virginia has retaliated against Vuyyuru by falsely accusing the esteemed doctor, and using fraud to remove his medical license.

 


HCA-Virginia claimed that Vuyyuru was at fault in the care of two patients. Review of the charts show the opposite. Evidence shows a shocking alteration of charts, and that HCA-Virginia may actual have put patients in jeopardy in order to frame Dr. Vuyyuru.

 Dr. Blake Moore, president of SSI concluded his investigation: “The medical facts in these cases were reviewed by multiple board certified parties. The care provided by Dr. Vuyyuru was deemed to be appropriate and professional. His care of his patients was found to be of a high quality and consistent with all reasonable standards of professional care.”

 


Patient advocacy groups now recognize that frequently peer review matters are not based upon true issues of quality of care but are very commonly motivated by alternative agendas that can include greed or avarice. The SSI press release continued, “Dr. Vuyyuru demonstrates that he had become a very vocal advocate for patient safety and political reform. His actions in convening grand juries to address these concerns certainly generated a climate ripe for personal retaliation. A reasonable individual might conclude that the actions taken by the Virginia Medical Board were not motivated by legitimate concerns for patient safety, but appear to be of a retaliatory nature.”
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) seen on this May 21, 2008 file photo. (UPI Photo/Ke

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James J. Murtagh, Jr. is a doctor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, and the Medical Director of several sleep laboratories in Southern Ohio. Dr. Murtagh extensively writes on medical ethics. Dr. Murtagh is the founder of a new (more...)
 

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National Whistleblower Assembly Scheduled for Mar... by James Murtagh on Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 12:47:04 AM
Doctors Back New Patient Safety Protectionsby ... by James Murtagh on Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 12:50:50 AM
Thank you for posting this article, and all the ot... by Katrin R. on Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 1:07:04 AM
If we really want to have open and honest business... by Mary Pitt on Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 7:04:56 PM
This also really hurts physicians, since most of t... by Katrin R. on Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 7:58:14 PM
James,In addition, people like Aubrey Blumson and ... by Jeffrey Dach on Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009 at 6:49:38 AM