An Ohio hospital system's plans to report physician-investors in a new surgical hospital to the National Practitioner Databank do not conform with federal law, a databank official says.
OhioHealth, a hospital system in Columbus, will report physicians investing in nearby New Albany Hospital to the databank if they do not relinquish their credentials by the end of January, officials that the hospital system tell Modern Physician.
But Mark Pincus, acting director of policy for the division of the National Practitioner Databank, says federal law only requires hospitals to report physicians who are dismissed and pose harm to patients.
Specifically, the law says that providers will be reported to the databank "based on a physician's or dentist's professional competence or professional conduct that adversely affects or could adversely affect the health or welfare of a patient," Pincus tells Modern Physician.
OhioHealth says the New Albany Hospital, which opened on Dec. 1, mainly for orthopedic patients, will harm the system by taking away income that is used to underwrite money-losing community services.
David Morehead, M.D., chief medical officer for OhioHealth, says the system recently sent letters to about 30 physicians listed as founders on the New Albany Web site, instructing them to relinquish their OhioHealth credentials by Jan. 31 or they will lose them and be reported to the databank.
Morehead says the system will not aggressively try to uncover investing physicians, but it will remove credentials if an investment "comes to light."
If investing physicians do not come forward, Morehead adds that when all OhioHealth physicians reapply for privileges, which occurs every two years, they will also be asked to sign a statement that they do not have an investment.
He says OhioHealth's decision to report dismissed investing doctors came on advice from its attorneys and he could not comment on what the databank official said.
New Albany Chairman Carl Berasi, D.O., tells Modern Physician that being listed on the databank "is a tremendous black mark on the physician?s record."
"These physicians (investing in New Albany) have an exemplary record," Berasi adds, noting that he himself has never been sued for malpractice.
Berasi won't say what he and other investors in the new specialty hospital will do next. But he notes that if they are dismissed from the staff, OhioHealth would end up damaging its own orthopedic services.
"You can't kick off that many orthopedic surgeons without getting tremendous delays in treating patients," he says.
But Morehead insists that OhioHealth Hospitals have "very adequate staffs" of orthopedic surgeons, and he does not foresee a problem.