HCA Healthcare faces suit alleging orthopedic surgery monopoly

A lawsuit filed Jan. 19 against HCA Healthcare alleges the Nashville, Tenn.-based health system engaged in a pattern of forming sham partnerships with the largest surgical practices in a given area in order to run them into the ground and improve its own market position.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tampa, Fla., alleges HCA is building a regional monopoly in Sarasota, Fla., as part of a nationwide scheme.

Kennedy-White Orthopaedic Center, which operates out of Doctors Same Day Surgery Center in Sarasota, alleges HCA has failed to properly manage and operate the ASC. HCA manages and owns 51 percent of the surgery center.

The suit alleges that HCA has not adequately hired, trained and retained staff, causing the center's physicians to be "unable to schedule procedures when there are rooms available."

The suit also alleges that HCA has not provided necessary spine surgery equipment and that its existing contracts with medical supply companies allegedly prevents the ASC from getting better deals, resulting in a conflict of interest.

In the suit, Kennedy-White Orthopaedic Center says HCA allegedly is not providing proper supervision and training for nurses, technicians and other surgery center staff, which "greatly impacts the day-to-day operations as [the ASC] routinely has to train techs and nurses during procedures while in the presence of patients."

In an email provided to Becker's ASC Review, a representative from Doctors Same Day Surgery Center, which HCA owns, said, "We value collaborative relationships with physicians and are proud of our decades of work together providing high-quality patient care and serving our community. We disagree with the allegations described in the lawsuit and will defend ourselves through the legal process. In the meantime, our focus remains on caring for our patients."

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