Calif. Doctor Under Investigation for ‘Unnecessary’ Surgeries Was Previously Monitored at Other Facility
One of the two doctors currently under investigation for allegedly performing "unnecessary" procedures at Tenet Healthcare's Redding Medical Center had been previously monitored by another Redding hospital for concerns over "patient care and employee safety," according to court documents, the New York Times reports. In August 1996, Mercy Medical Center notified Dr. Chae Hyun Moon that any catheter procedures he performed would be monitored by the medical director of the hospital's catheter laboratory, according to a lawsuit filed by Moon in 1999 seeking to have the monitoring halted. According to a letter to Moon included in the lawsuit, the hospital's actions followed two incidents in which a patient and a co-worker were purportedly put at risk because of Moon's actions. According to the Times, the monitoring requirement was "relaxed a bit a few months later" but stayed in effect until Moon brought suit against the facility in 1999. The lawsuit was dismissed, and although "it is not clear" what the resolution was, Moon no longer has admitting privileges at Mercy Hospital, the Times reports (Pollack, New York Times, 11/6). Tenet officials last week announced that federal officials searched Redding Medical Center as part of an investigation of Moon and another physician because of concerns that they may have performed unneeded surgeries and potentially defrauded Medicare (California Healthline, 11/4).
In related news, Tenet officials yesterday announced that the Federal Trade Commission has requested information about the 1999 merger of two of its hospitals in Missouri as part of the agency's "broad inquiry" into hospital mergers nationwide, the New York Times reports (Abelson, New York Times, 11/6). In August, FTC Chair Timothy Muris announced the agency would increase its focus on past mergers involving health care providers to ensure that the arrangements benefit patients and do not simply result in higher profits. The increased scrutiny appears to have been prompted largely by a sharp rise in health care costs and a belief that recent mergers have given hospitals more clout in negotiating higher prices with health plans because of a lack of competition (California Healthline, 8/9). The FTC is investigating a merger between Tenet hospitals in Poplar Bluff, Mo., which the agency had unsuccessfully attempted to block in court. Analysts said they expected the inquiry of the Tenet merger ever since Muris' announcement, the Times reports (New York Times, 11/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.