The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Feds probing HCA care
BY JIM HALL
Officials at the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center and at HCA, its parent company, declined to say whether the hospital is among those being investigated for doing unnecessary heart procedures.
HCA said Monday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami has requested information on whether interventional cardiology procedures done at 10 HCA hospitals were medically necessary.
The company did not specify which of its hospitals were being investigated, though it did say that the hospitals were located primarily in Florida.
A spokeswoman for Spotsylvania Regional declined to comment Tuesday on the federal investigation. She referred all questions to HCA headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., where a spokesman also declined to comment.
“All we’re going to have for you on that is what’s in yesterday’s 10–Q” federal filing, the spokesman said.
The company’s disclosure came on the same day that The New York Times reported that HCA has been investigating its own hospitals and has found that cardiologists at those hospitals did unnecessary cardiac catheterizations, a diagnostic procedure, and unnecessary stent placements, done to relieve blockages in the cardiac arteries.
The work is said to have been done from 2002 to late 2010. The newspaper reported that most of the hospitals are in Florida, but that two or three of them are in other states.
The newspaper said it based its report in part on confidential company documents that it obtained.
The newspaper also reported that the unnecessary work has resulted in injuries to some patients and to billings to the patients’ insurance plans, including Medicare.
In an email response to the newspaper, HCA said it has taken steps to “investigate areas of concern” and to “take action where necessary.”
In its SEC filing, HCA said that it could not predict what effect, if any, the federal investigation would have on the company.
HCA is the nation’s largest hospital chain with 163 hospitals. Spotsylvania Regional opened in June 2010 with a full range of services, including cardiac catheterization.
Jim Hall: 540/374-5433