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Medical Group, Doctor Settle Whistle-Blower Suit

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A medical group and a doctor have paid $250,000 to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging they overbilled Medi-Cal for delivering babies at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

The lawsuit accused Perinatal Medical Group and Dr. Hugo Riffel, who was director of the hospital’s obstetrics and gynecological residency program, of routinely charging Medi-Cal for deliveries by a doctor who was not present. The deliveries, the suit alleged, were performed by unsupervised medical residents.

Perinatal and Riffel deny any wrongdoing. They believe they complied with the program’s billing rules, their lawyer, Timothy Blanchard, said.

The suit was brought by Dr. Caroline Pieszak, who was a resident in the hospital’s OB/GYN residency program in 1995 and 1996. She is now in private practice in Westlake Village.

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Pieszak will receive between 15% and 30% of the settlement, her attorney, Barbara J. Hensleigh, said.

Glendale Adventist also was named in the lawsuit, but did not participate in the settlement, according to federal prosecutors.

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Perinatal Medical Group had a contractual agreement to run Glendale Adventist’s OB/GYN residency program. That agreement was terminated in December, said Alicia Gonzalez, the hospital’s spokeswoman. She said the hospital was not involved in the group’s billing.

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