Critics question sale of HCA hospitals

Lawyers representing a group of patients pursuing malpractice action against a West Virginia osteopath said HCA is trying to dodge a financial bullet by selling off all of its hospitals in the state to LifePoint Hospitals for $330 million. The group argues that the Nashville-based chain only announced plans to sell the four hospitals involved after it learned that a West Virginia court intended to set aside state malpractice caps in the case, potentially leaving it liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

More than 100 patients have filed lawsuits against Dr. John King over botched surgeries he performed at Putnam General Hospital in Hurricane, WV. HCA argues that the sale is part of its strategy to move away from "non-urban and rural hospitals." The story comes at a bad time for HCA as the hospital giant faces an ongoing SEC investigation into possible insider trading by its executives, which has also ensnared Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

- see this article from The Washington Post