Why should you even care who Beverly Cooper is? A friend, Kelly, sent a link to a recent HEAT team arrests. Because I have worked so much with fraud over the past couple of years, almost nothing surprises me anymore. Here’s the exception.
Beverly Cooper admitted to Federal Authorities that as a registered nurse:
‘she and others conspired to defraud Medicare through home health care companies operating in the Detroit area, including Reliance Home Care LLC, First Choice Home Health Care Services Inc. and Accessible Home Care Inc. According to court documents, Cooper fabricated nursing visit notes and other documents to give Medicare the impression that she had provided home health care services, when, in fact, home health care was not needed and/or was not being provided’.
Wow! We are not talking about a rogue nurse. This woman systematically with cooperation from her employers signed legal documentation for the sole intention of defrauding the government. The total billed fraudulently was over 5M.
This is the stuff that makes headlines and sets examples of what happens to people who commit fraud. It is dramatic and so far away removed from our daily practices that we just look at it in awe.
What we miss is that the worst part about this case isn’t the legal implications at all. It is the clinical documentation that is now part of a patient’s medical history. It is the patients who were not seen. It is those patients who did not meet eligibility requirements and were seen.
So, while it may not take a lawyer to determine that the behavior here was illegal, I wonder if the lawyers and judges understand the gravity of the compromised clinical care. Do they fully understand the the harm that could come to a patient when a hospital or other provider relies upon fiction stated as fact in a clinical record? Do they even understand how easy it would be for a patient to die because medications or allergies weren’t documented appropriately?
There’s one way to ensure that they do. The judge presiding over the case, The Honorable Victoria Robertson, can be contacted at:
United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan
Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse
231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Room 123
Detroit, MI 48226
Chambers Telephone Number
Let Judge Robertson know, if she does not already, that this case is about so much more than fraud. If we, as nurses, do not speak up, who will? Who better understands the ramifications of fraudulent documentation than a nurse who has tried to take care of a patient who is relying on poor (though not fraudulent) documentation of a prior caregiver?
I hope they allow Ms. Cooper a computer in the Federal Penitentiary so she can spend her money on the internet. I hope the Amazon order is enough to offset any regrets she has about compromising patient care. Most importantly, she should take up a healthy lifestyle because there are many nurses who would not be comfortable taking care of her should she become ill.