10 pediatricians yank their privileges from hospital

In an unusual move, 10 pediatricians pulled their privileges from Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) Medical Center. The children's doctors stopped making rounds and admitting patients at White-Wilson Medical Center beginning Oct. 1, NWF Daily News reports. They now admit patients to only Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, which is about an hour away.

The rift occurred in part because the pediatricians were concerned about the hospital's new pediatric ER, according to pediatrician Lynn Keefe, who was named the new head of pediatrics at White-Wilson. Although it was called a pediatric ER, she said, there was no pediatrician in the ER. "That hospital is actually saying, 'Bring us your sick kids. Bring us everything,'" Keefe told the Daily News. "What we were saying is you're calling all these kids in...but we don't have the specialists or the level of care."

Hospital officials did not answer questions about the pediatricians concerns, according to the Daily News.

The pediatricians had just formalized arrangements with Sacred Heart to admit pediatric patients, according to a White-Wilson press release that came out Thursday. If the change was planned, it wasn't planned well.

The mass exodus of pediatricians has left White-Wilson down to two on-call pediatricians who likely will face an onslaught of children as the high season for respiratory illnesses kicks in.

White-Wilson officials did not say who would make pediatric rounds or serve pediatric patients when the two pediatricians weren't available, the Daily News reports.

According to the White-Wilson release, the pediatricians decided to focus on their primary-care roles. "This change will be practically transparent to White-Wilson's pediatric patients," it said, noting that less than 1 percent of pediatric visits require hospitalization.

Those pediatric patients who need hospitalization for specialty care would go to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. Sacred Heart Children's Hospital offers pediatric specialty care, including a pediatric ICU, pediatric trauma center and a cancer unit.

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center officials have indicated that they are thinking about starting a pediatric hospitalist program.

To learn more:
- read the White-Wilson press release
- read the two NWF Daily News stories: article 1 and article 2