Docs leave struggling West Penn amid Highmark fallout

More surgeons are leaving Pittsburgh's West Penn Allegheny Health System to join the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

Four prominent orthopaedic surgeons will join UPMC in January, bringing the number of specialists who left West Penn for rival UPMC in the past two months up to eight.

This summer, West Penn accused UPMC of using "predatory tactics," allegedly forming joint ventures with community hospitals that excluded West Penn and luring physicians away from the health system with bribes.

The doctors made the move to UPMC because providing the best patient care requires working with a "fiscally successful and efficiently run integrated health system," said Christopher C. Schmidt, one of the departing orthopaedic surgeons, noted the Business Times.

Meanwhile, West Penn is still $800 million in debt and canceled its deal to be purchased by Highmark last month, claiming the insurer was forcing it to declare bankruptcy.

However, only a few weeks after the split, executives from both organizations spoke to each other, potentially opening the door to resume the planned merger. However, the terminated deal already has sparked discontent among many West Penn physicians, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Physician leaders from the system's Forbes Regional Hospital, in particular, worry about reductions in staff and services that could hurt patient care, the article noted.

To learn more:
- read the Business Times article
- check out the Tribune Review article