Hospital sued for diverting patients, defamation

Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg, Miss., has sued neighboring Forrest General Hospital and the CEO of AAA Ambulance for allegedly denying local residents their choice of where to get treatment, reported the Hattiesburg American.

According to the suit, some patients were wrongly identified as "trauma" patients and told they could only go to Forrest General, although they could have been treated at Wesley. Others were told Wesley lacked the specialists or resources to treat their medical emergencies.

The lawsuit, which Wesley's chief exec deemed a "last resort," claims Forrest General and AAA ignored patient requests, falsified medical records, made defamatory statements about Wesley and deliberately violated the state's trauma system destination rules. Moreover, the lawsuit highlights 10 instances in which AAA transported patients to Forrest General even though they had asked to go to Wesley Medical Center.

Wesley maintained that such disregard of patient preference hurts its reputation and business.

In a warning that applies to all providers, a February article in Medscape Today cautioned that suing for defamation remains an expensive and risky proposition. For a defamation lawsuit to be worth the time and effort, providers need to first ensure they truly have a case, FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.

For more:
- read the Hattiesburg American article
- check out the Medscape article

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the location of Wesley Medical Center. The hospital involved in the lawsuit is in Hattiesburg, Miss.

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