Weekly watchdog: Hacienda HealthCare to close

Here are some of the top stories from around the web covering healthcare fraud and ethics issues.

Long-term care facility to close after rape scandal of incapacitated patient

Weeks after a woman in a vegetative state was impregnated and gave birth at a long-term care facility in Arizona, the facility will close, according to a statement from the board of directors. Hacienda HealthCare, the operator of the nursing home, had been caring for the 29-year-old woman since she was 3 years old.

The case grabbed national headlines when the woman gave birth, prompting an investigation into male staffers at the facility. Other staff told 9-1-1 operators they had no idea she was pregnant as the woman went into labor in December.

A former nurse, Nathan D. Sutherland, 36, who worked at the facility was charged with sexual assault of the woman in the case. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and to a count of child abuse, The New York Times reported.

The facility was ordered to have a third party take over day-to-day operations by the state in the fallout of the scandal. The case has also raised alarm bells across the long-term disability care sector, according to the NY Times, placing the space under heightened scrutiny. Hacienda HealthCare is working to determine how to move the 37 affected patients to another facility.

False Claims: Greenway Health faces $57M fine

A Florida-based electronic health records (EHR) company, Greenway Health, will pay $57.25 million to settle a False Claims Act complaint, the Department of Justice reported. Greenway allegedly caused users to submit false claims to the government by misrepresenting the capabilities of its product, Prime Suite.

Greenway allegedly concealed from its certifying authority that its Prime Suite product did not fully comply with requirements for a certification, according to the government. The company also modified its test run to deceive the certifying company and did not correctly calculate EHR-related activities that enabled healthcare providers to be eligible for incentive payments. As a result, many users of one version of Greenway’s product falsely attested they were eligible for the payments when they had not met all the requirements.

As part of the settlement, Greenway entered into a five-year agreement with the HHS Office of Inspector General, requiring the company to retain an independent review organization. The agreement also requires Greenway to notify its customers of issues and follow other mitigation steps.

"Vendors who falsify the viability of their products erode the integrity of public health systems and will be held accountable for their misrepresentations,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak for the Northern District of Georgia said in a statement.

Ex-Vanderbilt nurse hit with charges after patient dies from medication error

Rodonda Vaught, a former nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, was charged with reckless homicide in the death of a patient who was killed by a medication error in 2017, The Tennessean reported. Vaught was meant to give a 75-year-old patient a routine sedative, Versed, but instead injected vecuronium, a paralytic that caused the patient to suffer cardiac arrest and brain death, the outlet reported.

According to the charges, Vaught ignored safety precautions in place to prevent the accident. Her arraignment date in court is scheduled for Feb. 20.