Cyber security is on everyone’s mind.  President Obama signed an executive order in February aimed at increasing protection of our nation’s critical infrastructure, while HHS released its new HIPAA mega rule in January (effective in March) in an effort to strengthen the security of electronic health records.  As providers work to update their HIPAA policies

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued an interesting report in September that analyzed civil and criminal healthcare fraud cases.  The report is based on 2010 data from the various agencies in the federal government charged with investigating and pursuing healthcare fraud.  For purposes of this blog entry, I’m going to focus on some key numbers on the civil side. 

In 2010, the government investigated a total of 10,187 “subjects.”  Subjects included entities such as hospitals, medical clinics, and pharmacies, as well as individuals that provide services at these entities.

  • Of the 10,187 subjects investigated, 2,339 of the subjects were related to civil investigations, rather than criminal investigations.
  • Of the 2,339 civil investigations, nearly 20% of these were hospitals.  Medical centers or clinics made up another almost 18% of the total 2,339 civil investigations.
  • Of the total 2,339 civil investigations, the government actually pursued cases against 1,087.
  • Of the 1,087 civil cases the government pursued, the government either settled with, or won a judgment against, 55% of these subjects.
  • Of the 55% civil cases that either settled or resulted in a judgment for the government, 44% of these subjects were hospitals or medical facilities (medical practices or clinics).

These numbers are interesting because it shows that hospital or medical facilities make up over one third of all civil investigations and almost half of all settlements.  It is also interesting to look at the number of investigations that were based on qui tam filings.  A qui tam is a civil False Claims Act case brought by a private citizen, “relator” or “whistleblower,” on behalf of the government.  Once a case is filed, the Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General are charged with investigating and making a determination about whether the government should pursue the case by becoming a party to the litigation.  In many cases, if the government believes the allegations have merit, the government will attempt to settle before actually litigating.
Continue Reading Civil Fraud by the Numbers