Questions intensify over link between Tenet's political contributions and state changes to hospital standards

Cardiologists are in an uproar over allegations that Florida's governor loosened rules on pediatric cardiac surgeries after he received a large contribution from Tenet Healthcare Corp.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott eliminated safety rules related to cardiac surgeries on children after he and the state Republican Party received $200,000 in campaign contributions from Tenet, CNN reported. The party itself received $50,000--more than double any other contribution Tenet had made to a state political party.

The rule change came just a few months after the news organization reported that a Tenet-owned hospital--St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach--failed to live up to the quality standards.

"The whole situation is outrageous. It's just outrageous," Louis St. Petery, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist in Tallahassee and former executive vice president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN.

"I can't think of anywhere else in the country where you have safety standards and someone doesn't like them, so you just have it repealed," Peter Pronovost, M.D., senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine and inventor of a central line catheter insertion protocol that has all but eliminated hospital-acquired infections, told CNN.

Tenet denied any meddling and told CNN that it never discussed the pediatric cardiac standards with the governor or his office, or with any elected official or anyone on their staff.

The allegations place Tenet under more of a shadow, as the Dallas-based firm disclosed last year it is being investigated for allegedly paying kickbacks for patient referrals. 

To learn more:
- read the CNN article