Ten Florida surgeons have settled antitrust allegations that they conspired to fix the fees they charged two hospitals to provide services to the hospitals' newly opened trauma center.
The Federal Trade Commission accused the surgeons of setting up a "sham" corporation in May 1992 to deal collectively with the two hospitals, 578-bed Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and 316-bed North Broward Medical Center in Pompano Beach, Fla.
Under federal antitrust law, competitors can't collectively set prices unless they form a single economic unit in which they share true economic risk.
The FTC said the surgeons refused to negotiate individually with the hospitals after collective negotiations failed.
Under the proposed consent agreement with the FTC, the physicians must dissolve their corporation. It also bars the physicians from collective actions against other providers or payers in order to fix prices for their services.
The FTC agreement, under which the physicians admit to no violation of federal law, is subject to public comment for 60 days before it becomes final.