Docs protest Tenet hospitals’ plan to use staffing firm to manage contracts
Physicians in California are fighting back against a plan to appoint an outside staffing firm to manage physician contracts at up to 12 hospitals owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp.
The hospitals currently use independent physicians to provide inpatient care such as emergency medicine, anesthesiology and hospitalist services. The plan calls for these contracts to be managed through a national staffing firm, though not necessarily replacing the local physician groups. Up to three vendors are being evaluated.
Local professional societies fear that the move could result in some physicians losing their jobs if they’re not offered a contract or are offered rates that are too low.
About 33 contracts stand to be affected by the change, said Dr. Marc Futernick, president-elect of the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. The larger contracts might cover 30 to 40 physicians. “I think the plan has serious consequences for patient care and doesn’t engage the medical staff,” he said.
The Coalition for Quality Hospital Care—whose members include the California chapters of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine—has launched a media campaign and is circulating a petition to increase pressure on Tenet.
“What is surprising and alarming … is that at many of your hospitals, such actions are being contemplated without adequate input from, or notice to, the affected medical staffs and physicians,” the California ACEP chapter wrote in a letter to Tenet.
Although the coalition maintains that Tenet took similar actions in Florida, a spokesman for the Dallas-based chain emphasized that the move is being made at the local level and is not a corporate decision.
“It was never our expectation or intent that our hospitals would choose to move to a single source for these services,” Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said in an e-mail. “The hospitals’ goals for reviewing their service options include maintaining high quality of care and patient service, better coordination of care among the services, increased stability of the physician groups, replacement of retiring physicians, and identifying partners having highly developed systems and support structures.”