The husband of a health columnist who died at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston from an overdose during breast cancer treatment says he will use part of a cash settlement to help find a cure for the disease. Robert Distel has settled his wrongful death lawsuit against the prestigious hospital for an undisclosed sum. He plans "a large contribution" to Dana-Farber, where he works as a scientist, to establish a breast cancer research fellowship in memory of his wife, Betsy Lehman, his lawyer said. Lehman, 39, a columnist for the Boston Globe, died Dec. 3, 1994, after receiving an overdose of cyclophosphamide and four times the maximum safe dose of another highly toxic drug meant to shield her from the side effects of chemotherapy. At least a dozen physicians, nurses and pharmacists overlooked the error, even though another woman had suffered severe heart damage from the same combination of drugs two days earlier. The overdoses led to the resignation of the hospital's top physician and several other top administrators. The hospital said it has corrected the problems. Dana-Farber is negotiating a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the second overdose victim, who survived.
The California Department of Corporations has told Blue Cross of California that, if all issues are resolved, it is prepared to decide on the proposed merger of Blue Cross' WellPoint Health Networks subsidiary and Health Systems International around Sept. 7. Blue Cross had asked for a decision by Aug. 22. The state agency recently requested, among other data, additional information on the structure of the two public charities worth $3 billion that Blue Cross will set up following the merger. The $1.8 billion merger of the Woodland Hills, Calif.-based plans would create the nation's largest for-profit HMO.
In what is believed to be the first such venture between a medical school and an independent practice association HMO, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Associated Health Plan have formed the Tufts Managed Care Institute. The Boston-based not-for-profit organization will integrate managed-care principles into physician training, and provide education and resources to other healthcare professionals and the general public on practicing in a managed-care environment.
With the new alliance of San Diego-based ScrippsHealth and Catholic Healthcare West, Mercy Healthcare San Diego is joining the Scripps-Health system. The alliance was proposed last year. Mercy had been a division of San Francisco-based CHW. Scripps and Mercy will begin consolidating resources and integrating administrative support systems, and Scripps will begin participating in CHW's statewide contracting. With Mercy on board, Scripps now includes eight hospitals and a home-care agency. It has combined revenues of $767 million and more than 9,500 employees.
Two Southwestern long-term-care companies have merged to form Alliance HealthCare Group, based in Scottsdale, Ariz. The agreement brings SunQuest HealthCare Corp., Scottsdale, together with BritWill HealthCare, Dallas. Alliance estimates revenues of $100 million in fiscal 1995. The consolidated company comprises 48 facilities in 13 states with a total of almost 5,000 beds and 37,000 employees. Bruce H. Whitehead was named chairman of the new company, and Jerry M. Walker was appointed president and chief executive officer.
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. has named Comdisco Medical Equipment Group a preferred vendor of reconditioned diagnostic imaging equipment. The estimated value of the deal wasn't disclosed. Rosemont, Ill.-based Comdisco is the largest independent lessor and refurbisher of diagnostic imaging equipment. Comdisco reported revenues of $2.1 billion in fiscal 1994. The company's used medical equipment segment grew 68% to $22 million in 1994, out of just over $100 million in total medical equipment revenues. The subsidiary reported pre-tax earnings of $6.4 million.