Hospitals Accused of Organ Transplant Fraud
2 , 2003
Three Chicago hospitals were accused of fraud by prosecutors
Monday for manipulating diagnoses of transplant patients to
get them new livers.
Two of the institutions paid fines to settle the charges.
The University of Chicago Hospitals and Northwestern Memorial
Hospital paid fines of $115,000 and $23,587, respectively,
without admitting or denying guilt in the "whistle-blower"
suits initiated by a transplant specialist.
The University of Illinois Hospital was sued for $3 million.
"By falsely diagnosing patients and placing them in
intensive care to make them appear more sick than they were,
these three highly regarded medical centers made patients
eligible for liver transplants ahead of others who were waiting
for organs in the transplant region," said Patrick Fitzgerald,
the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
"Organ donation can be a matter of life and death. There
is no room for fraud when it comes to deciding which patient
receives an organ," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
said in the joint statement.
Some patients were hospitalized in intensive care or given
a more urgent transplant status to make them eligible for
precious livers from organ donors.
The suit against the University of Illinois hospital said
the improper diagnoses were used to meet the minimum number
of liver transplants to qualify for government health insurance
Donated livers are in short supply, with nearly 20,000 Americans
awaiting new ones and roughly 5,000 transplants performed
each year. The United Network for Organ Sharing draws up regional
lists based on patient need and other factors.
The cases grew out of a 1999 lawsuit filed by transplant
specialist Dr. Raymond Pollack, who will share in the fine