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A prominent Chicago hospital and six orthopedic surgeons defrauded the U.S. government's Medicare and Medicaid programs by overbilling for a heavy caseload of surgeries the doctors often didn't attend, according to allegations in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a surgeon and a former hospital employee.

The complaint against the surgeons, their practice and the places where they operate, such as Rush University Medical Center, includes allegations that financial ties with device maker Zimmer Holdings Inc. (ZMH) spurred bad behavior.