Florida hospital attributes spike in lawsuits against patients to EHR conversion

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg (Fla.) sued more patients after switching from a nonprofit to a for-profit organization. Officials attributed the increase in lawsuits to an EHR conversion and other factors, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg was an independent, nonprofit organization before it was sold to Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates in 2013, which was acquired by Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems. The hospital began suing more patients to collect past-due bills after being acquired by a for-profit company, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

In 2015, the hospital sued 528 patients in Pinellas County (Fla.) civil and small claims court to collect payment. That number jumped to more than 700 lawsuits in 2016 and 2017 before dipping to 650 cases last year. The hospital has sued more than 730 patients so far this year, according to the report.

A hospital spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times that there was a lag in processing patient accounts in 2018 due to an EHR conversion in 2017. The conversion led to what "looks like an increase" in the number of cases filed in the first half of 2019, according to the report.

An increase in patient financial responsibility due to health plans with high deductibles and copayments also contributed to lawsuits being filed, the spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times.

Access the full Tampa Bay Times article here.

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