As MedPartners starts its exit from California, one of its doctors is giving the company a swift kick in the rear.
Jack Thomas, M.D., a Long Beach, Calif., family practitioner, from July 1998 to April 1999 kept a diary of what he believed were examples of poor care resulting from the way MedPartners ran his three-physician clinic. The trouble, according to Thomas, included lost charts and specimens, denied referrals and inadequate staffing.
When MedPartners' response to his complaints was minimal, Thomas says he submitted his diary to the California Medical Association on April 20. He also submitted a copy to the state's Department of Corporations, which the month before had seized MedPartners' contracting subsidiary.
The Los Angeles Times published portions of the diary May 12. "I had no intention of anyone seeing (the diary)," Thomas says. "But people needed to be aware this was going on."
MedPartners spokesman Jason Kendey says the company disputes the contents of Thomas' diary. Kendey says patient care at the Mullikin-Naples location, where Thomas practiced, is "quite good, and patients are quite satisfied."
Thomas says he requested a leave in December, coming back for occasional work through April, because he "ethically and morally" could not be a part of the clinic. In May he began doing some locum tenens work for Pacific Internal Medicine in Long Beach. He's not sure he'll return to Mullikin-Naples. "I was told when I mentioned (the diary) among colleagues that (I'd) be blackballed, and I just might be," Thomas says.