Six cardiologists in Little Rock, Ark., filed suit in U.S. District Court, alleging that their hospital privileges were revoked by Baptist Health, Little Rock, because the doctors have an indirect financial interest in a competitor, Arkansas Heart Hospital. The lawsuit charges that the denial of privileges violates federal antikickback law and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud Statutes. It asks the court to enjoin Baptist from refusing to allow the doctors to refer patients to the five-hospital system. The six doctors all practice at Little Rock Cardiology Clinic, which holds a 14.5% interest in the heart hospital. The lawsuit is one of the first in the nation by doctors challenging a practice known as economic, or restrictive, credentialing, which has generated considerable attention in recent weeks. Last month OhioHealth, an eight-hospital system based in Columbus, revoked the privileges of 17 physicians with investments in a 42-bed orthopedic hospital nearby. Subsequently, Eastern Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, revoked the privileges of five physicians associated with a for-profit surgery hospital. Eastern Regional alleged that the doctors were changing their referral patterns to favor their own facility. -- by Michael Romano
Docs sue Ark. system over economic credentialing
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