Doc Says Hospital Provokes Psychiatric Fits

     MANHATTAN (CN) — A psychiatrist has fired back at the suburban New York hospital that recently fired him, claiming in federal court that its nurses provoke disruptive behaviors from young patients — that way the hospital can employ physical or chemical restraints, an unnecessarily severe diagnosis and an unreasonably long inpatient stay — all to send Medicaid an inflated bill.
     If granted whistleblower status in a lawsuit under the False Claims Act, Dr. Alfred Robenzadeh would be entitled to a handsome percentage of any recovery the government achieves because of his claims.
     Robenzadeh filed his suit on Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court, taking aim at his former employer Westchester Medical, as well as several individual officials.
     At the time of his recent firing, according to the complaint, Robenzadeh had concluded the fourth of a five-year fellowship at the Valhalla hospital, specializing in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry.
     Robenzadeh says he began complaining in May 2015 about billing fraud, prompting his harassment, suspension and ultimate firing.
     The 22-page complaint says Robenzadeh the hospital has a pattern of child or teenage psychiatric inpatients acting out because they have been provoked by the nurse.
     This allows the nurses to ask the doctors for “chemical or physical restraint that would increase the severity of the diagnosis and prolong unreasonably and unnecessarily the patient’s inpatient stay, for which WMC was wrongfully reimbursed by Medicaid.”
     Rather than discharging inpatients when they were ready to be released, WMC staff would allegedly taunt and incite the inpatients into behavior that would extend their stays.
     Robenzadeh says health insurers typically provide up to 14 days of inpatient care reimbursement for psychiatric disorders.
     Though the doctor allegedly had ways of cooling disruptive patients down, he said his WMC nursing staff met his de-escalation techniques with disappointment.
     The hospital also snuffed Robenzadeh’s proposal to analyze the metrics why stable patients were “reported as having high acuity events just before being scheduled for discharge,” according to the complaint.
     Robenzadeh says the disciplinary charges that led to his firing were “trumped up” and designed to discredit his reporting of health care fraud.
     The lawsuit also includes allegations of discrimination.
     Robenzadeh says male patients at the Behavioral Health Center were “treated as second-class and as troublemakers, who were assumed to be aggressive, and much more likely to be physically injured by staff.”
     “If the patient’s complexion was any shade of brown, their concerns, e.g., pain, stress or hunger, were neglected because the culture of the unit devalued them as patients,” the complaint continues. “If the patient came from a residential placement and not a home with parents, there was no one paying attention to what WMC did to them or treated them, and the staff were aware of that fact and neglected or abused them freely.”
     Westchester Medical Center spokesman Andrew LaGuardia said the claims “against our staff offensive and totally without merit.”
     “The psychiatry trainee only raised his claims after he was disciplined for certain behavior,” LaGuardia added.
     Robenzadeh is represented by Robert Sadowski with Sadowski Katz in Manhattan.

%d bloggers like this: