Lawsuit filed against Athens hospital for alleged false COVID-19 tests, some employees suspended for theft

Athens-Clarke County may have more COVID-19 cases than is reported. Four nurses came forward with claims about a critical care hospital. The nurses filed a civil lawsuit last week, alleging that Landmark Hospital of Athens falsified negative tests.

According to the lawsuit, the administrative staff retested patients who already tested positive and sent the tests to a lab at Piedmont Athens Hospital. They say Landmark, a for-profit hospital, sent throat swabs but instead incorrectly identified them as nasal swabs.

“What ultimately led to the nurses coming forward is that they were seeing positive results, and then the very next day or the same day an incorrect sample [was] taken that would appear as negative," said Natalie Woodward, the attorney representing the four nurses.

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A hearing before a judge has not been scheduled, but Woodward hopes the lawsuit will be expedited.

“A lot of these patients are on ventilators and because their family members can't come into the facilities, the nurses are their voice," Woodward said.

Landmark Hospital sent a statement to FOX 5 Monday.

“At this time, there are no patients or staff testing positive for coronavirus at Landmark Hospital of Athens. We will vigorously defend against the claims made in the lawsuit," wrote Landmark's CEO Marie Saylor.

Saylor also says three employees were suspended with pay while they investigate a potential theft of medical records. She would not specify if the suspended employees were the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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