A 50-page federal whistle-blower complaint accuses Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute and 21st Century Oncology of illegally dividing services in southwest Florida to maintain their individual oncology care monopolies, according to the News-Press.
The lawsuit, which was filed under seal last year and recently made public, alleges the two Fort Myers, Fla.-based cancer care companies had an illegal “gentleman’s agreement” under which they provided exclusive patient referrals to each other.
The lawsuit further alleges Florida Cancer Specialists allowed unqualified medical assistants to service patients’ surgically implanted catheters.
The federal government declined to intervene in the case; therefore, the whistle-blowers will continue in the litigation.
The lawsuit was filed by Sharon Dill, who served as Florida Cancer Specialists’ vice president for human resources and chief human resources officer between 2012 and 2015, and Christina Sievert, Florida Cancer Specialists’ vice president of clinical financial services between 2013 and 2015.
Ms. Dill alleges she was fired after disclosing an unspecified disability. Ms. Sievert alleges Florida Cancer Specialists retaliated against her for waging a gender discrimination claim, according to the report.
Florida Cancer Specialists said it takes the allegations in the complaint seriously and is looking into the matter. 21st Century Oncology, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, told the News-Press it does not comment on pending litigation.
21st Century Oncology operates 179 cancer treatment centers across the U.S. and Latin America, and Florida Cancer Specialists has nearly 100 treatment locations.