A federal grand jury issued a criminal indictment against two units of Tenet Healthcare Corp. on 16 counts of paying kickbacks for patient referrals and one count of conspiring to violate federal antikickback law. The indictment names 311-bed Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, San Diego, and Tenet HealthSystem Hospitals, the legal entity doing business as Alvarado during the period in question. Alvarado CEO Barry Weinbaum was indicted earlier on similar charges. The indictment alleges that $10 million paid by Alvarado to physicians through 100 relocation agreements between 1992 and 2002 amounted to illegal kickbacks. Established physicians, rather than newly recruited doctors, received a substantial portion of the relocation funds, the indictment alleges. Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet earlier this week announced that it expected an indictment against Alvarado and perhaps against the company itself. Tenet President and acting CEO Trevor Fetter said in a written statement that the company believes its policy on physician relocation agreements is appropriate. "We believe this very broad indictment mistakenly attacks a well-established, lawful and common means by which U.S. hospitals attract needed physicians to their communities," Fetter said. -- by Patrick Reilly
Tenet hospital indicted over doc relocation deals
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