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Lawsuit costs Wexner Medical Center $718K

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center has paid more than $718,000 in fines and legal fees for improper handling of lab samples, and that number is expected to rise as bills continue to surface.
The university paid $268,000 as part of a settlement reached in January with the federal government because of sanctions levied by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees in order to reach the agreement.
“To date, we have $450,550 in legal fees,” said Marti Leitch, a Wexner Medical Center spokeswoman. “It was part of the investigation and settlement that was made with CMS. (That) is what has been paid to date. There are probably still some bills coming in.”
According to The Columbus Dispatch, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services imposed sanctioned against the lab for sending several proficiency-test samples to other labs for testing, which federal law prohibits.
Leitch said the Medical Center self-reported the improper referral of lab samples. As part of the settlement, staff working at the lab will undergo additional training, and a new medical director for the clinical laboratories at the medical center has been named.
According to The Dispatch, Dr. Daniel Sedmak, a professor of pathology, has been named the lab’s new medical director. The previous medical director, Dr. Amy Gewirtz, was reassigned within the department, Leitch said.
Proficiency testing is used to check a lab’s ability to test samples. The samples that were sent to other labs were proficiency test samples, not actual patient samples, according to a Medical Center press release. Sending these samples to other labs is against CMS regulations.
The penalties for this infraction could have been much harsher than the fine, but with this settlement, the Medical Center was able to avoid costly sanctions.
“We’re grateful to have the settlement completed,” Leitch said.
Kai Wang, a second-year in business administration, said he didn’t really care that much about the case but disapproved of the improper referrals.
“I think (people) here should follow the rules,” he said. “Not like in my country. In China there are so many, kind of, illegal things happening, everywhere, every day. But I think that … the most developed country in the world, the U.S., should be the example.”
Connor Hooper, a first-year in public affairs, said he was frustrated by the amount of money spent in the case.
“It does frustrate me as a student when I see the school doing something that seems to be unethical and that causes us to lose money,” he said.

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