Weak flu season, lawsuits take toll on LifePoint's bottom line

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A weak flu season and expenses tied to legal settlements caused Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Health's profit to fall 44.5 percent to $21.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016.

The hospital operator saw revenue increase to nearly $1.6 billion in the first quarter, up 25.1 percent from revenue of $1.3 billion in the same period the year prior.

LifePoint's revenue gains were partially offset by a 5.3 percent year-over-year decrease in same-hospital admissions. That was attributable to a weak flu season and the trend of lower acuity volumes moving from the inpatient to the outpatient setting, Executive Vice President and CFO Leif Murphy said in an earnings call. Flu-related emergency department visits were down 13.9 percent year over year in the first quarter, while all other emergency department visits were up 2.1 percent.

The hospital operator also incurred a $24.7 million charge in the first quarter to settle cardiology-related lawsuits. LifePoint self-reported the matter to the Department of Justice after discovering two cardiologists conducted improper procedures in the cardiac catheterization laboratories at two hospitals: Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma, Ala., and Raleigh (W. Va.) General Hospital.

"We are pleased with our first quarter performance, which demonstrates the strength of our strategic plan and our ability to deliver solid operational results," said LifePoint Health Chairman and CEO William F. Carpenter III. "When adjusted for certain one-time items, our financial performance was in line with our expectations."

LifePoint ended the first quarter with net income of $21.6 million, down from $38.9 million in the same period the year prior.

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