HHS: Specialty hospitals not ready for emergencies

A new report from the HHS Inspector General's being released today should send shock waves through the ranks of physician-owned specialty hospitals. The emergency capacity of specialty hospitals has been under fire for at least a year, since some nationally-publicized cases came to light where patients died in the care of physician-owned hospitals when the hospitals couldn't manage them in a crisis situation. The HHS IG's report, which looks at this issue, concludes that their capacity is dangerously limited.

Researchers, who looked at 109 physician-owned hospitals, found that only 55 percent had emergency departments--and that even among those, most had a token single ED bed. It found that less than one-third of the hospitals studied had doctors on site 24/7.

Some of the problems violate Medicare rules. For example, 22 percent didn't address how emergency cases should be handled in their written policies, a Medicare requirement. And worse, 34 percent relied on dialing 911 if patients had serious problems, something Medicare rules forbid.

Now that a report has confirmed legislators' worst fears, it's likely some legislators will move ahead with the crackdown they've been considering for several months.

To learn more about the report:
- read this piece from The Washington Post

Related Articles:
Congress considers specialty hospital regulation. Report
Physician-owned hospitals: A conflict of interests? Report
Texas specialty hospitals do lucrative business. Report
Partnership building 10 doctor-owned hospitals. Report

Suggested Articles

The profit margins and management of Community Health Group raise questions about oversight of managed care insurers.

Financial experts are warning practices about the pitfalls of promoting medical credit cards to their patients.

A proposed rule issued by HHS on Tuesday would expand short-term coverage, a move Seema Verma said will have "virtually no impact" on ACA premiums.