Baptist Health, Little Rock, Ark., has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the system's policy of denying hospital privileges to physicians with a financial stake in competing specialty hospitals.
The board of the five-hospital system, Arkansas' largest, adopted the policy last summer.
The lawsuit was filed Feb. 10 by six cardiologists with Little Rock Cardiology Clinic, which owns a 14.5% interest in Arkansas Heart Hospital. Two of the doctors have been notified their privileges at Baptist hospitals will end Feb. 26.
U.S. District Judge James Moody is expected to rule by Feb. 26 on the doctors' complaint, which contends Baptist's policy of "economic credentialing" violates state and federal statutes.
The system maintains the new policy is legal. "We think we've got a policy that is appropriate and is there to protect patients' access to a full range of services," Baptist spokesman Mark Lowman said.