Tuesday, August 12, 2003

More unjustified prosecution of America's fine, upstanding corporate citizens:

Dr. Campbell, an internist, first suspected trouble in Redding Medical Center's cardiology program soon after joining the hospital in 1993, according to papers obtained by federal investigators. That year, one of his patients underwent open-heart surgery even after the surgeon told Dr. Campbell the procedure was unnecessary. Two years later, another patient received a coronary bypass, though the cardiologist's report said it was not necessary.

Then there were the numbers -- tens of thousands of diagnostic tests, thousands of surgical coronary procedures. The totals seemed more likely for a major university medical center than for a hospital in a rural community of about 90,000 people.

Dismayed, Dr. Campbell brought his concerns to Stephen E. Corbeil, the hospital's chief executive at the time. Though Dr. Campbell declined to comment on the meeting and Mr. Corbeil did not return telephone calls, the papers obtained by federal investigators indicate that the administrator's response was succinct: The young internist, he said, should mind his own business.

Ultimately, Dr. Campbell's concern proved to be everyone's business. Last week, the hospital's owner, Tenet Healthcare, agreed to pay $54 million to the government to resolve accusations that Redding Medical doctors conducted unnecessary heart procedures and operations on hundreds of healthy patients. Tenet did not admit any wrongdoing and agreed to cooperate with further investigations.

Note that they denied any wrongdoing. Surely, pace the arguments here, this is a sign that the government has nothing, absolutely nothing, and knows it. Another sad case of government regulation run amok.


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