MEDPARTNERS: Physician’s Diary Raises Questions About Care
In a 22-page diary that alleges poor patient care, a MedPartners doctor has come forward regarding concerns that have arisen about "the quality of treatment the managed care network's 1.3 million California patients had been getting," a Los Angeles Times columnist reports. Dr. Jack Thomas, whose diary mentions 115 patients he treated at MedPartners' Mullikin Naples facility in Long Beach from July to February, submitted the journal on April 20 to the state Department of Corporations and the California Medical Association -- which has since requested a validity check -- and later to the Los Angeles Times. "Assuming its accuracy, I think Dr. Thomas' diary reflects the ugly underbelly of some forms of managed care, which have been based on predatory pricing and putting profits and investor income ahead of patients," Dr. Jack Lewin, CEO of the California Medical Association, said. The diary outlines the frequent absence of patients' medical charts, shortened appointments and the "failure to refer seriously ill patients to specialists or to perform surgery in a timely manner." Dr. Nash, manager of the Naples facility, disagreed with the diary's allegations, noting that charts are easily accessed via computer or telephone, and that the referral process has been streamlined since last summer. North also disputed the diary's claim that appointment times had been shortened from 15 minutes to 10, saying that patients are allotted 10, 20 or 30- minute appointments, depending upon their illness. Thomas took a leave of absence because he said he was "physically and mentally depleted." The columnist concludes: "These are serious matters. The state government has launched an investigation, and it seems to me the public should be given a full report on its findings" (Reich, 5/13).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.