A former phlebotomist for Quest Diagnostics filed a qui tam (whistleblower) suit on July 27, 2012, alleging her former employer and LabCorp knowingly submitted “false and fraudulent claims to the United States and the State of California…for the same tests, performed on the same day, on the same patient” since at least 2002. The suit was unsealed on October 6th, 2014 after a US District judge denied the federal government’s motion for a fifth extension of time to consider whether it would intervene in the suit.
According to the complaint, Elisa Martinez was hired by Quest to work as a phlebotomist at its patient service center (PSC) in Red Bluff California. She was placed on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for undisclosed reasons in February 2011 and was terminated in June 2011.
Just before she advances her allegations, Ms. Martinez highlights the fact Quest paid $302 million in 2009 and Quest and LabCorp paid $241 million and $49.5 million, respectively, in 2011 to settle fraud allegations.
She then provides four examples in which Quest received orders from different physicians to perform the same tests on the same patient and instead of merely sending the results of one set of tests to the ordering physicians, allegedly performed duplicate blood and urine testing and billed Medicare twice.
In one case, Ms. Martinez says a phlebotomist poured urine from one specimen cup into a second cup so as to facilitate the duplicate testing.