Mark Armstrong Quoted in “Take 7 Steps to Protect Yourself Before Turning into a Whistleblower”

Medical Compliance Alert

Mark Armstrong, a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, in the Houston office, was quoted in an article titled "Take 7 Steps to Protect Yourself Before Turning into a Whistleblower."

Following is an excerpt:

At least one outfit that hooks up whistleblowers with attorneys has been issuing press releases in recent weeks trolling for physicians and others to contact them about suits against other providers — in one case calling it "sitting on a winning lottery ticket."

"It's not surprising to target physicians since they're in a good position to have inside information," says attorney Mark Armstrong with Epstein Becker Green in Houston.

The question is whether — and how — a doctor should proceed. False Claims Act cases have skyrocketed in recent years. The number of whistleblower — known as qui tam — suits filed in 2013 soared to 752,100 more than the record set the previous year. In fiscal year 2013, the recoveries in qui tam cases totaled $2.9 billion; the whistleblowers received $345 million of that, according to the Justice Department's announcement. The whistleblower receives up to 25% of the proceeds of a successful lawsuit if the government intervenes and up to 30% of the recovery if the government declines and the relator proceeds with the action alone.

Before turning the tables on a colleague or health care entity and filing a qui tam lawsuit accusing them of violating the False Claims Act, follow these seven steps:

Gather evidence. You need evidence of false claims and a strong case to get the government to intervene.

Try to correct the problem internally. Follow the practice's or entity's procedure to report a concern to the compliance officer. Become a whistleblower after you've done that and the issue remains uncorrected for a period of time. "There's no legal obligation to do that, but it's in the best interests [of the doctor and other party] from a relationship perspective," Armstrong says.