Docs protest Tenet hos­pi­tals’ plan to use staffing firm to man­age con­tracts

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Beth Kutscher

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.”

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