Vi Relator’s Motion To Compel Discovery On Orthotics
Relator claims that the Clinic had several schemes related to orthotics. One of the alleged schemes involved falsely billing the Government for the services of an unlicensed orthotist. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 43, 234. In another alleged scheme, the Clinic entered kickback relationships with licensed orthotists, including an orthotist with AP& O.Id. ¶¶ 43, 239, 241. Relator also alleges that doctors altered diagnoses to ensure that patients would qualify for Medicare-paid orthotics, that the Clinic authorized fittings of orthotics by physical therapists who were not trained or licensed to do so, and that the Clinic submitted claims for custom orthotic devices when patients received off-the-shelf items. Id. ¶¶ 235, 240, 242.
In the Amended Complaint, AP& O stands for “Atlanta Prosthetics and Orthotics,” Am. Compl. ¶ 43, but some of the briefing says that AP& O stands for “Athens Prosthetics and Orthotics.”
In Interrogatory No. 11, Relator sought all facts that support or refute her orthotics allegations and the identity of any documents, communications, or persons with knowledge relating to these allegations. She also served the Clinic with Request for Production No. 6, seeking all documents relating to her orthotics allegations. And, she propounded Interrogatory No. 18, seeking details on the Clinic’s agreements with third-party orthotists. Relator claims that the Clinic did not adequately respond to these discovery requests.
Xi Defendants’ Motion To Compel Interrogatory Responses
Relator claims that Defendants violated the federal Anti-Kickback statute and Stark Law. She alleges general facts regarding what she tallies as eighty-four fraudulent schemes. Defendants served Relator with interrogatories regarding her Anti-Kickback Statute claims, asking Relator to identify each third party from which a specific Defendant solicited or received remuneration in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and each third party to which a specific Defendant offered or paid remuneration in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute. Defendants also served Relator with interrogatories regarding her Stark Law claims, asking for information on which specific third parties each Defendant made referrals to in a way that violates the Stark Law.
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Orthopedic Clinic Pays $15 Million To Settle Systemic Noncompliance With Hipaa Rules
Athens Orthopedic Clinic PA has agreed to pay $1,500,000 to the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and to adopt a corrective action plan to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy and Security Rules. Athens Orthopedic is located in Georgia and provides orthopedic services to approximately 138,000 patients annually.
On June 26, 2016, a journalist notified Athens Orthopedic that a database of their patient records may have been posted online for sale. On June 28, 2016, a hacker contacted Athens Orthopedic and demanded money in return for a complete copy of the database it stole. Athens Orthopedic subsequently determined that the hacker used a vendor’s credentials on June 14, 2016, to access their electronic medical record system and exfiltrate patient health data. The hacker continued to access protected health information for over a month until July 16, 2016.
On July 29, 2016, Athens Orthopedic filed a breach report informing OCR that 208,557 individuals were affected by this breach, and that the PHI disclosed included patients’ names, dates of birth, social security numbers, medical procedures, test results, and health insurance information.
“Hacking is the number one source of large health care data breaches. Health care providers that fail to follow the HIPAA Security Rule make their patients’ health data a tempting target for hackers,” said OCR Director Roger Severino.
Xii Relator’s Motion For Esi Protocol
Discovery in this action commenced in March 2019. When the parties submitted their joint proposed scheduling order, they had not worked out a process for production of electronically stored information and stated that they would raise the issue with the Court if the parties, in good faith, could not work out the process themselves. The parties proceeded with electronic discovery, exchanging search terms, running searches, and working to refine the process. Then, nineteen months after discovery began, Relator filed her motion for an ESI protocol. She contends that ESI is missing from the production because Defendants refused to agree to her proposed ESI protocol, which she says is transparent, iterative, and verifiable. She identifies three main problems with how the parties have proceeded thus far: Defendants have not adequately communicated with her about the ESI collection process, Defendants resisted her requests for an iterative approach to search terms, and Defendants will not agree to her proposed verification process. Defendants respond that they tried to work with Relator to have a cooperative and iterative discovery, but Relator has not cooperated. Defendants further contend that they have already substantially complied with many of the requirements in Relator’s proposed protocol.
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Ix Relator’s Motion For Protective Order
Relator represents that the Clinic had not produced any claims data or associated documents for the time period of 2005 to mid-2012. Therefore, Relator is seeking the claims information directly from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services . She asked for all claims data from the CMS outpatient, carrier, and DME databases concerning the Clinic, its ambulatory surgery center, and its physicians for the years 2006 through 2012. CMS requires entry of a protective order, payment of costs associated with the data pull, and certification from Defendants that they will not request additional information from the same data pull. The Clinic has declined to agree to the protective order until it can confirm with a CMS employee that the protective order presented by Relator is really required, the scope of the certification that it must make to CMS, and what information Relator requested from CMS. Instead, the Clinic wants to talk directly with the CMS employee who is handling the production.
V Relator’s Motion To Compel Discovery On Viscosupplementation
As discussed above, Relator alleges that the Clinic billed the Government for FDA-approved viscosupplementation when the Clinic actually purchased an unregulated, foreign viscosupplementation agent and used it in patients. In Interrogatory No. 7, Relator sought all facts that support or refute these allegations, along with the identity of documents, communications, or persons with knowledge relating to those allegations. In Interrogatory No. 19, Relator sought information regarding the Clinic’s purchases of reimported or foreign viscosupplementation agents. And in Request for Production of Documents No. 7, Relator sought documents relating to her viscosupplementation allegations. Relator claims that the Clinic did not adequately respond to Interrogatory No. 7 and did not respond to Interrogatory No. 19 at all. She also contends that the Clinic did not produce documents regarding the purchase of viscosupplements from QP Medical or Wicklow Enterprises and that the Clinic did not produce any claims information for viscosupplements acquired from these companies.
The Clinic contends that its purchase of viscosupplementation agents from Wicklow Enterprises was not illegal, but there has been no dispositive motion on this issue and present record does not contain enough information for the Court to decide the issue.
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Athens Orthopedic Pays Office For Civil Rights $15m For Hipaa Noncompliance After 2016 Data Hack
Athens Orthopedic Clinicwill pay$1.5 millionto the U.S. Department Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights after a 2016 data breach by hackers, according to an article from Health IT Security.The OCR, which is housed under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, audited the clinic after the hacking and revealed systemic noncompliance with the HIPAA rule.
The breach was caused by the hacking group thedarkoverlord, which in 2016 hacked into multiple health care systems to steal patient data to sell on the dark web or use to extort providers.The group stole thedata of more than 655,000 patients before the end of its hacking campaign, according to the article.One member of the group was indicted in 2019.
InJune 2016, AOC was notified that some of their patient records were posted online for sale. One of the hackers called the clinic two days later and demanded payment in exchange for the records, according to the article.
The group used stolen third-party credentials to access AOCs medical records system, which includes patients Social Security numbers, according to the article. The group had access to the clinics records for more than a month.
The hackers posted the stolen data online, and three AOC patients sued the clinic in August 2016. The case was initially dismissedbut will be heard at the Athens-Clarke County Superior Court after the Georgia Supreme Court overruled the dismissal in January.
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X Relator’s Motion To Stay Deadlines
Fact discovery in this action is supposed to be complete by December 3, 2020. Expert discovery is to begin on December 7, 2020 and end on April 9, 2021. It is obvious that the parties need more time to complete discovery. Relator wants the Court to stay all the deadlines. In the alternative, she seeks a four-month extension of all deadlines. Defendants concede that at least a two-month extension is warranted. The Court finds that a four-month extension is appropriate under the circumstances. But this is the last extension. The lawyers should plan accordingly. The deadlines are:
? Fact discovery cut-off: Friday, April 2, 2021.? Expert discovery period to begin: Monday, April 5, 2021.? Deadline to disclose affirmative experts and exchange expert reports: Friday, May 7, 2021.? Deadline to depose affirmative experts: Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
The Court will enter a separate amended scheduling order to ensure that the dates are clear on the docket.
I Relator’s Motion For Sanctions
At the February 25, 2020 telephone conference, the Court ordered the Clinic to respond to Relator’s outstanding discovery requests by March 31, 2020, with no further extensions. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The parties jointly requested and received a four-month extension of discovery, to April 9, 2021. The joint motion for extension, however, did not address the documents that the Clinic was to produce by March 31, 2020. The Clinic did not complete its production by that date. Relator filed a motion for sanctions, arguing that the Court should hold the Clinic in contempt until it produces all the documents that the Clinic was ordered to produce by the end of March. The Clinic represents that it met the March 31 deadline for nearly all the responsive documents that had been identified for production as of February 25, 2020 and that it produced the remaining documents by May 5, 2020. The Clinic further represents that it discovered additional responsive documents that it needed to produce and that those documents were on track to be produced by the end of June, 2020.
In her reply brief, Relator also includes patients that received any durable medical equipment or orthotics.
Relator alleges that the Clinic billed the Government for FDA-approved viscosupplementation when the Clinic actually purchased unregulated, foreign viscosupplementation agents and used them in patients. Relator claims that the Clinic purchased some viscosupplements from Wicklow Enterprises, LLC.
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Vii The Clinic’s Motion To Compel Production Of Third
Relator has served subpoenas on third parties and received documents from them. The Clinic served a request for production of documents on Relator seeking a copy of all communications or other documents between Relator and any non-party which concerns or references the subject matter of the Complaint. The Clinic represents that Relator has not produced all the third-party documents she received in response to the subpoenas. Relator objects to the Clinic’s request, asserting the work product privilege. She contends that the request includes informal communications between Relator’s counsel and potential third-party witnesses, rather than being restricted to documents obtained pursuant to subpoenas or other requests. While the request for production is broad, the motion to compel focuses on the documents that Relator received in response to Relator’s requests. Relator did not clearly explain why she should not be required to produce documents that she received from third parties if they are responsive to the Clinic’s document requests and are not privileged. The Court finds that any unprivileged documents Relator received from third parties should be produced to the Clinic if they are responsive to the Clinic’s document requests and if the Clinic has not already received the documents directly from the third party. Thus, the Clinic’s motion to compel production of these documents is GRANTED. Relator shall supplement her production of documents by December 31, 2020.
Viii Relator’s Motion To Compel Interrogatory Responses
In response to the portion of the interrogatories that request the identification of persons with knowledge of the allegations, the Clinic referred to its response to Interrogatory No. 1, which is a list of people with knowledge of all the claims. As discussed above, the Clinic supplemented that list to clarify which employees may have knowledge of the orthotics allegations, but it does not appear to have done that for all of the topics referenced in Interrogatory Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12. The Court is not convinced that the Clinic’s list, contained in the second supplemental amended responses to Relator’s first interrogatories, is sufficient to answer the requests in Interrogatory Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 for a list of persons with knowledge of the allegations referenced in each interrogatory. Therefore, the Clinic shall supplement its responses to Interrogatory Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 by December 31, 2020.
In summary, this motion to compel is GRANTED to the extent set forth above. The Clinic shall supplement its responses to Interrogatory Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 by December 31, 2020.
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Athens Orthopedic Announces Addition Of Surgical Facility
- Athens Orthopedic Announces Addition of Surgical Facility
OrthoForum member, Athens Orthopedic Clinic, has announced the addition of an ambulatory surgical facility in Loganville to serve a growing patient base.
Athens Orthopedic Ambulatory Center at Loganville was granted a state license to operate as an ambulatory surgical center and opened May 15. This marks a first for Walton County, as the AOC Ambulatory Center at Loganville will be the only dedicated orthopedic outpatient surgical facility in the county.
AOC is excited to be able to bring orthopedic outpatient surgery to Loganville, said Kayo Elliott, CEO of Athens Orthopedic Clinic. This is just one more way we are showing our commitment to providing high quality, sub-specialized orthopedic care to the residents of Loganville and surrounding counties.
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