HCA settles nurses' charges
HCA, Nashville, earlier this month paid $270,000 to four nurses to settle charges that the nurses were demoted from their jobs at 250-bed Norton Audubon Hospital, Louisville, Ky., during its ownership by an HCA predecessor because of union activity. The hospital was sold in 1998 by then-Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. and is now part of seven-hospital Norton Healthcare, Louisville. One nurse lost her job when Columbia/HCA transferred positions to another hospital and offered other nurses in her unit, but not her, a chance at the jobs. She received $172,000, the largest settlement. Three other nurses were demoted from charge nurse to lower-paying positions in a restructuring. The National Labor Relations Board ruled in 2000 that the hospital demoted nurses because of their union activities, including speaking out against staffing shortages. Two of the nurses were officers of the union.
CalPERS to review pricing
The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the nation's largest private purchaser of healthcare, agreed last week to a labor union's request to review pricing and medical practices at Tenet Healthcare Corp. CalPERS, which provides healthcare coverage for 1.1 million beneficiaries, said it will hear the concerns of the Service Employees International Union and will prepare a report on how the pension fund's members could be affected by the federal probes at Tenet, Santa Barbara, Calif. The 1.5 million-member SEIU, which has been locked in a bitter dispute to organize Tenet hospitals, last week asked CalPERS to examine charges that the nation's second-largest hospital company deliberately inflated charges and failed to hold medical staff accountable for the quality of care. Medicare is auditing Tenet for its high rate of outlier payments, while two doctors at the company's 188-bed Redding (Calif.) Medical Center are under investigation for allegedly performing unnecessary heart surgeries.