6-physician group to cut ties with Lexington Regional Health Center

Lexington, Neb.-based Plum Creek Medicine Group resigned privileges at Lexington (Neb.) Regional Health Center last weekend due to deteriorating relations between physicians and the hospital, according to the North Platte Telegraph.

PCMG physicians will treat patients at Cozad (Neb.) Community Hospital and Kearney (Neb.) Regional Medical Center, the physicians announced in a letter. PCMG still hopes to continue relations with LRHC's emergency room team, according to the report.

"This is not an ideal situation. It forces patients to choose between their doctor and their hospital," Mark Jones, MD, both a PCMG physician and member of the LRHC board, said in the report. "That, more than anything, made us reluctant to do this. If we felt we had any other option, this wouldn't be happening."

After years of strained relations between PCMG and the hospital board and administration, a policy enacted at the October board meeting was the final straw, Dr. Jones told North Platte Telegraph. Dr. Jones said he opposed the policy regarding complaints about staff because it kept the subject of a complaint in the dark during the peer review process, according to the report.

"For us, the new policy was threatening. It's no longer safe for us to practice medicine there," Dr. Jones said in the report.

LHRC was shocked by the news last Friday. The new policy is an external peer review process, meaning individual physicians from an outside organization review physicians to ensure patient safety, quality and a respectful environment, according to the LRHC statement released Monday. The new policy formalizes an informal external review process the hospital has used since 2006, the statement said.

"Critical access hospitals such as LRHC are required by Medicare to have policies for credentialing and quality assurance. LRHC utilizes the services of a number of agencies and individual providers to meet these requirements and regulations," Leslie Marsh, LHRC CEO, said in the report.

Both LHRC and PCMG said patients are free to seek care at the hospital regardless of their provider. However, PCMG providers will not treat patients at the hospital and will resume care after the patient leaves LHRC.


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