Health Management Associates Inc., the company that owns the Medical Center of Southeastern Oklahoma in Durant, has responded to a Sunday broadcast by 60 Minutes that alleged the company has pressured doctors to increase patient admissions, regardless of whether the patient needed hospital care.
The segment, by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes, showed a document from the Durant hospital that had names of local doctors and their performance levels on admissions.
It showed an admission goal of 20 percent and revealed those who were not meeting the goal.
MCSO declined to talk about the allegations and provided a statement from the HMA office.
“According to their report, 60 Minutes conducted more than a year of research and found no issues with the quality of care at Health Management hospitals, stating on the broadcast that ‘hardly anyone we talked to complained about the quality of care at HMA hospitals,’” the release states.
“It was also notable that 60 Minutes failed to identify a single patient who had been inappropriately admitted from any of the company’s emergency rooms, including by the physicians interviewed.
“Neither 60 Minutes nor the physicians interviewed identified any admission decision in which a physician’s medical judgment was overridden by an HMA executive, much less to defraud Medicare.”
“60 Minutes did not in any way dispute the admissions data it was provided by Health Management over the last several months. That data demonstrated that admissions rates from the company’s emergency rooms were in-line with national norms and consistent over a several year period.
“Instead, 60 Minutes relied entirely on disgruntled former employees of the company and former contracted physicians, several of whom are seeking financial gain through active litigation with Health Management.”
Health Management also spoke about an e-mail cited by 60 Minutes that was sent by an executive of Medical Center of Southeastern Oklahoma in Durant.
According to HMA, 60 Minutes intentionally left out the final of three sentences, incorrectly implying that the executive was pressuring staff members to admit patients. When all three sentences are read together, it is fully clear that the executive is not demanding additional admissions, but stating that because admissions were light, the emergency room should “act accordingly” and adjust weekend staffing levels to reflect current needs. Health Management and its hospitals constantly utilize a range of metrics in managing their operations to maximize quality of care for patients, HMA officials say.
According to the Associated Press, Health Management Associates stock fell 45 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $7.50 after the CBS news program “60 Minutes” broadcast a segment critical of the company’s patient admission policies. The program included interviews with former employees who said HMA pressured its emergency room doctors to admit patients.