Florida Orthopedic Surgeons Sue HCA Over Surgery Center Deals

On Wednesday, a group of orthopedic surgeons sued HCA Healthcare, alleging that the healthcare system engages in anti-competitive behavior and is trying to dominate the orthopedic surgical market by eliminating competitors.

A dozen doctors who make up the Kennedy White Orthopedic Center in Sarasota, Florida, allege that HCA has degraded “the quality, reputation and opportunity of surgical practice” by prioritizing its 100% hospitals as landowner and manager. a complaint.

According to the complaint, HCA and the Kennedy White Orthopedic Center have been in partnership since 1995, with HCA acting as the general partner and majority owner of the partnership.

According to Michael Taaffe, a partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and an attorney representing surgeons, HCA profited from the institution but did not reinvest in its upkeep.

“Kennedy White entered into this agreement assuming that HCA would do everything to promote the facility, update it, keep it clean and maintain it in working order,” Taaffe said. “And they didn’t.”

The surgeons allege that HCA limited their center’s capacity, redirected patients and staff to the nearest HCA-owned hospital, affected their medical equipment and supplier prices, and did not pay for the center’s services.

HCA did not respond to requests for comment on the post.

In a similar vein, he said it was anti-competitive that HCA still didn’t allow its independent day surgery centers to hold patients until 11 p.m., which is standard practice in Florida.

“No one wants to go to the hospital where they can get other illnesses, illnesses, the flu or COVID-19,” Taaffe said. “They want to do their procedures in an outpatient setting, in a same-day surgery center where there are no patients who are sick or have other medical conditions to come into contact with the patients.”

HCA also offers more competitive salaries for its hospital staff than a surgical center can offer and curbs market competition by implementing an agreement that prevents its physicians from setting up their own competing facilities, said Ryan Nichols, partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and Surgical Center Lawyer. .

HCA owns four of the eight private hospitals in the Sarasota area. It also operates four outpatient surgery centers including the Same Day Surgery Center.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based organization owns 46 healthcare facilities across Florida, and its market share is drawing attention to its growing presence.

In joint venture outpatient surgery centers, there will always be an inherent divergence of interest that needs to be managed between the hospital and the joint venture, according to Joe Lupica, chairman of Newpoint Healthcare Advisors.

“The question arises why HCA should go to all the trouble to set up a surgical center if they are just going to send patients somewhere else,” said Lupika. “These executives are under pressure to succeed, they have an incentive to succeed in the ASC business.”

Taaffe said the surgical center spent more than a year trying to resolve the issues listed in the HCA complaint and was fired by the company.

If members of the surgical practice say they want to end their partnership with HCA, Taaffe said they are discouraged from doing so due to financial threats from the HCA warning physicians of the partnership’s share price reduction and business restrictions once the contract ends.

Through legal action, the surgeons are seeking an end to the partnership between HCA and the Kennedy White Orthopedic Center and about $1 million in damages, with HCA ordered to buy out the center’s remaining holdings.

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