Four physicians filed a lawsuit accusing Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls of illegally revoking their hospital privileges as punishment for their investment in a competing specialty facility. The board of trustees of the HCA-owned hospital voted earlier this year to revoke the privileges of the four doctors because of their partial ownership of 20-bed Mountain View Hospital, a for-profit surgical center. The doctors' suit, filed in Bonneville County District Court, seeks permanent injunctive relief to prevent Eastern Idaho Regional from following through on its plan. The effective date of the privileges revocation, originally March 1, has been extended until June 30, said the plaintiffs' attorney, David Marx Jr. of McDermott, Will & Emery. The plaintiffs also are seeking to quash the hospital's medical staff development plan, which the complaint describes as "arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious." A spokesperson for 280-bed Eastern Idaho Regional could not be reached for comment.
Mountain View, which opened in December 2002, has 33 physician owners. Marx said none of his clients owns more than about 5% of the hospital. In August 2002, Eastern Idaho Regional adopted new medical staff guidelines that base privileges at least in part on whether physicians have significantly changed their patient volume or referral patterns. The doctors contend that the data used by the hospital in the revocation proceedings does not "necessarily or accurately" reflect the number of patients admitted or referred by a particular physician. The privileges of five physicians were revoked. Marx said the fifth physician, represented by another attorney, has a different case because his privileges were revoked because he failed to complete a financial disclosure form -- by Michael Romano