Former Orlando guardian improperly billed AdventHealth nearly $4M

ORLANDO, Fla. — A former Florida guardian accused of filing "do not resuscitate" orders without her clients' permission improperly charged both her clients and AdventHealth, according to an audit released Thursday.

The audit by the Orange County Comptroller's office said Rebecca Fierle was paid $3.9 million in the past decade for acting as a guardian for 682 incapacitated clients in legal and health care matters.

Less than a third of those clients were wards in Florida's guardianship system, while the rest weren't and didn't have court oversight. A

dvent Health paid Fierle $1.1 million for services on behalf of those clients without court supervision, according to the audit, which refers to them as "Group 2" patients.

"It is clear how guardianship is established under Florida law," the audit said. "However, it is not entirely clear how Ms. Fierle obtained the authority to act and exercise discretion over the Group 2 patients."

In one case, Fierle was paid almost $289 for paying bills and discussing with the ward about a storage unit whose contents were about to be auctioned off because a $299 bill wasn't paid. The storage unit bill was never paid, despite Fierle being paid, the audit said.

The audit identified other cases where Fierle double-billed Advent Health or billed the health care system for cases that belonged to other guardians.

Fierle's attorney, Harry Hackney, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Thursday.

Fierle had 450 guardianships when she resigned amid a criminal investigation this summer. Authorities began probing her work after the death of a 75-year-old man in a Tampa hospital whose doctors were barred from trying to save his life because Fierle had filed a "do not resuscitate" order. Investigators said that order went against his family's wishes.

The controversy prompted the resignation of Florida's director Office of Public and Private Guardians, Carol Berkowitz, at the request of Florida Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom this summer.

Gov. Ron Desantis also called for a vigorous investigation into the state's guardianship program.

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