Last night's "60 Minutes" on CBS featured a segment on Medicare fraud in which a Van Buren doctor alleged that Summit Medical Center set "arbitrary benchmarks" to increase admissions (and revenues) from Medicare patients. Dr. Jeffrey Hamby, and three other doctors from various Health Management Association-run hospitals, all alleged the hospital coerced emergency room doctors to meet quotas for admission, in some cases 20 percent, strictly for financial reasons. Hamby said the Van Buren hospital was trying to hit 15 percent; 10 percent is the average, one doctor said. HMA has quit using its Pro-Med software in the ER that doctors said prescribed a battery of tests for patients even before doctors had seen them and suggested admission of patients, the program said. Doctors said admitting patients who did not need to be admitted exposed them to "medical misadventure."
Summit's public relations person said the hospital would have a response in an hour. I left a message for Hamby, who was fired by the hospital and is suing for wrongful termination. A statement from owner HMA described the doctors on the program as "disgruntled" and said the investigation "found no issues with the quality of care at Health Management hospitals," though that was not the point of the investigation.
UPDATE: From Summit Medical Center:
“Summit Medical Center is dedicated to top quality care of our patients, and has been recognized two years in a row as a National Top Performer on Key Quality Measures by the Joint Commission. We are dedicated to serving our community and patients and have full trust in the medical judgment of our physicians, who are the only ones who make decisions about who to admit to our hospital.”
UPDATE 2: A spokesperson for Summit says Dr. Hamby was directly employed by Emcare Inc., rather than the hospital.
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