SAN FRANCISCO: St. Luke’s Sues CPMC For ‘Skimming’ Patients
San Francisco's St. Luke's Hospital filed a lawsuit yesterday against rival California Pacific Medical Center for at least $4.5 million for allegedly "siphoning" off patients through an exclusive physicians' contract. The antitrust suit, filed in state Superior Court, claims that CPMC's contract with Brown & Toland Medical Group effectively diverted too many of St. Luke's paying patients, resulting in a loss of patient admissions worth $1.5 million annually. St. Luke's, which characterizes itself as a "safety net" hospital, charges that Brown & Toland recruited doctors that were formerly "top admitters" to St. Luke's, and had them sign contracts requiring them to "refer all their patients to CPMC" instead. The 15-page lawsuit asserts that "Brown & Toland and CPMC should not be able to make exclusive deals with one another because of their dominant positions in the local health care market." "We need those paying patients to stay open," said St. Luke's Vice Chair Philip Pillsbury. CPMC, part of the Sutter hospital network, declined to comment, saying they had not seen the suit. Wanda Jones of the New Century Health Care Institute, said, "I can't think of another time this has happened. This is a new step in the competitive contracting wars" (Abate, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/15).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.