Care New England, Lifespan feud over decades-long policy allowing physicians to call on competitor for help

Tensions are rising between Providence, R.I.-based Care New England Health System and Lifespan, also in Providence, over a decades-long policy allowing physicians from one hospital to call on physicians from its competitor for assistance during emergency situations, according to WPRI-News.

The policy applies to "adult code" incidents when an adult shows sudden cardiac or stroke-like symptoms. Under the policy, physicians at Care New England-owned Women & Infants Hospital in Providence can call on physicians at Lifespan-owned Rhode Island Hospital, also in Providence, for help and vice versa.

Care New England officials said the policy has been in place for more than 30 years, and was used roughly 12 to 14 times in 2016.

Lifespan and Rhode Island Hospital officials expressed concerns about the policy earlier this year, stating it presented "patient safety and physician liability" issues, according to the report. Lifespan officials moved to stop the policy June 26. However, the state health department ordered that the policy stay in place until the two health systems could configure a solution the state could support.

In a statement to WPRI-News, representatives from Care New England suggested Lifespan leaders demanded "an unreasonable amount of money" to continue the policy. Lifespan officials dismissed the suggestion in a separate statement to the news organization, stating officials began discussing the policy's cessation in February because it allegedly placed financial strain on the health system, according to the report.

Rhode Island Hospital President Margaret Van Bree said the hospital asked Women & Infants Hospital to consider crafting "a formal agreement to provide contracted services that will help define both institutions' responsibilities, improve communication and ensure optimal coordination between care teams at both hospitals," according to the report.

However, Care New England representatives said discussions have stalled.

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