A New Jersey hospital has ordered 30 physicians to take immediate action to reduce their patients' average length of stay or risk losing their admitting privileges.
The hospital, 380-bed JFK Medical Center in Edison, said its decision is motivated by quality considerations, not economics. "This is the furthest thing from economic credentialing you can find," hospital spokesman Tom Casey said. "This is quality driven."
The physicians' lawyer disagrees.
Each of the 30 doctors, from a medical staff of about 700, posted lengths of stay 30% higher than what would be expected under the hospital's performance improvement plan, Casey said.
The 30 physicians, who run the gamut of specialties, have been given 30 days to submit detailed written plans for improvement. Physicians whose plans are accepted will be reappointed to the medical staff for three months while medical officers assess their progress.
The physicians accuse the hospital of holding their credentials hostage to beef up revenue in a practice known as economic credentialing and vow to take JFK Medical to court if it doesn't "abandon this foolhardy program," said Robert Conroy, the physicians' lawyer.
Conroy, a partner in the law office of Kern Augustine Conroy & Schoppmann in Bridgewater, N.J., said the hospital's action not only violates state law and the hospital's bylaws but also HCFA regulations barring remuneration that affects the quality of care.