"SEIU initially threatened to expose "dirt" on PHS, disseminate reports based on Medicare data, and claim that these reports showed that Medicare patients were acquiring serious blood infections like septicemia at PHS' hospitals even though SEIU knew that the Medicare data identified conditions present on admission; not hospital acquired conditions," the website reads.
This week, investors in a company that leases to Prime also posed questions about "federal and state investigations into Prime over possible Medicare fraud and to evaluate options for better monitoring of potentially fraudulent billing activities within the portfolio facilities."
"In its letters to the Medical Properties Trust Board, CtW (Investment Group) warned that if these incident(s) were proven to stem from systemic up-coding, Prime's potential liabilities could easily outstrip the operator's net income, posing considerable reimbursement risk to Medical Properties' shareholders," said a CtW press statement.
It's unclear why cases of kwashiorkor and malnutrition have spiraled at Prime Healthcare hospitals. But the trend appears to be a national one.
According to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's H-Cup (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project) data tables, secondary diagnoses of kwashiorkor, filed under ICD-9 260, cases grew from 13,591 in 2004 to 59,250 in 2009. California, the data tables show, has only 6.3% of those cases, in 2009, but Texas has 11.2% and Florida has 5.5%.