by Dave Muoio | January 20, 2022
A new lawsuit against HCA Healthcare accuses the health system of monopolizing the orthopedic surgery market in Sarasota, Florida and harming its surgical partners with sham contracts that direct patients to the chain’s nearby hospitals.
The case was filed in a Tampa federal court Wednesday on behalf of the doctors of Kennedy White Orthopedic Center, an orthopedic surgical practice that operates out of an ambulatory surgery center (ASC). The plaintiffs and HCA have a partnership agreement to own and operate that ASC.
The lawsuit alleges that HCA has used its majority ownership of that partnership to appoint itself as the general partner and manager of the ASC “with complete control over all decisions involving the partnership and surgery center.”
Those decisions, according to the suit, include “intentionally” restricting the ASC’s scheduling availability, capability to perform higher-acuity procedures, ability to hire “quality” nurses and surgery technicians at competitive salaries and access to medical equipment and supplies at competitive prices.
These actions and others are part of a “premeditated plan” implemented in both Sarasota and “all over the country” to divert patients from ASCs to nearby hospitals owned and operated by HCA, the plaintiffs alleged.