A Roman Catholic priest has sued Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., its Redding (Calif.) Medical Center and a Redding cardiologist who allegedly performed an unnecessary cardiac catheterization on the priest. Last week, news that the FBI and other government agencies were looking into allegations that two Redding physicians had performed hundreds of unnecessary cardiology procedures led to a precipitous drop in Tenet's share price. Now, a malpractice lawsuit filed in Shasta County (Calif.) State Court by the Rev. John Corapi accuses Redding's director of cardiology, Chae Moon, M.D., of professional negligence, battery, conspiracy and fraud and names Tenet and the hospital as co-defendants. Corapi was among the informants who led the FBI and other federal agencies to raid Redding's offices last week for documents related to cardiac procedures and patients.
Tenet spokesman Gary Hopkins said the corporation had not reviewed Corapi's lawsuit yet but added, "We take these allegations in the (FBI) investigation extremely seriously." An internal Tenet review team began examining the accusations today. The company also announced it has hired Mercer Consulting Group to review the Redding cardiology program. An affidavit filed by the FBI last week named Moon and Redding's director of cardiothoracic surgery, Fidel Realyvasquez, M.D., as the immediate targets of the investigation, although neither has been charged. According to the affidavit, witnesses told the hospital's CEO of their concerns, but no review was conducted. The New York Stock Exchange halted trading of Tenet's stock Oct. 31 when its share price dropped by more than $10 to a 52-week low of $28.75 per share. Near closing today, the company's stock was selling at $27.47. by Mark Taylor