Massachusetts medical records dispute highlights competition over primary care

Getting and keeping primary-care doctors is, if anything, is a more urgent matter than in the past--so it's small wonder that hospitals would engage in trench warfare to keep them on board. That being said, the departure of primary-care doctors doesn't always result in a tug-of-war between physicians and hospitals over who keeps patient medical records. In this case, though, things became just that nasty.

The fight began earlier this year, when a primary-care group decided to leave Boston's Caritas Christi Healthcare for another facility. When Caritas execs found out, a game of "who's got the medical records" erupted.  The dispute, which involves only two physicians, pits Caritas against Mount Auburn Hospital, a competing facility affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

The two physicians, who weren't happy with their compensation, found themselves in a struggle over 3,000 to 4,000 records, which they contend they own and Caritas says belong to the hospital. Caritas is particularly hard pressed to fight such departures, as the six-hospital system is struggling to regain its footing after losing money last year. Seems that they wanted to make an example of these primary-care providers, doesn't it?

This week, the group and hospital finally found common ground--by force. Yesterday, a judge ordered that the records be put in a neutral central location that both parties could access.

To learn more about the dispute:
- read this article from The Boston Globe

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