Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, sharply reduced its second-quarter loss to $21 million, or 4 cents per share, in contrast to a loss of $426 million, or 91 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter, when Tenet took a $256 million charge for discontinued operations. But the company said patient volume, with the exception of surgeries, remained mired in a slump, affected by competitive pressures in Texas and Florida and contentious relations with managed-care organizations, including some contract terminations. Revenue fell 3.4% to $2.42 billion. Without discounts to uninsured patients in both quarters, revenue would have been up 1.3%. Bad-debt expense fell to 12.2% of revenue, a 1.1 percentage point drop. In the six months, Tenet lost $24 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with a loss of $548 million, or $1.18 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue was 3.1% lower, at $4.92 billion, without adjusting for the discount policy.
Same-hospital admissions declined 1.4% in the quarter, but same-hospital surgeries were up 2%. Same-facility outpatient visits dropped 9.4%, although Tenet said about half of the drop was attributable to sales or closures. While volume declined in three of Tenet's four regions, it was up at the company's 18 hospitals with continuing operations in California. Tenet, which owns or operates 69 hospitals, released its results even as it repeated plans to delay filing a second-quarter report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tenet announced last month that an SEC investigation into the company's disclosures to investors prior to 2003 uncovered some possibly improper contractual allowances. Tenet said it does not expect the review of allowances to materially change results for 2004 or 2005. -- by Vince Galloro