Health First's 'scorched earth turf war' at heart of physician privilege lawsuit, judge rules

A federal judge in Florida says a legal dispute between seven oncologists and Titusville, Fla.-based Parrish Medical Center was created by a third-party health system seeking market dominance: Rockledge, Fla.-based Health First, according to a report from USA Today affiliate Florida Today.

U.S. District Court Judge Roy Dalton issued a summary judgment Aug. 22 in a legal dispute that stems from a 2017 lawsuit brought by the physicians against Parrish. In the suit, the physicians alleged Parrish did not renew their practice privileges because they failed to share patient data with the medical center, a decision the oncologists claimed did not follow contract bylaws. The judge ruled in favor of Parrish, saying the decision did follow bylaws, and the oncologists' failure to share the data hindered the medical center in renewing its cancer center accreditation, according to the report.

In the summary judgment, the judge also pointed to outside influence in the case from Health First, a Parrish competitor. "This dispute revolves around the thinly veiled effort of Health First to flex its muscle in the long running, heavily litigated, 'scorched earth' turf war for Brevard County's healthcare business," Mr. Dalton wrote, according to Florida Today.

The report notes that the physicians were associated with both Health First and Parrish, and Health First declined to share patient data it owned with Parrish. "The plaintiff physicians here ... have been employed as foot soldiers in the intractable hostilities," Mr.  Dalton wrote in the decision, according to Florida Today

Health First has been involved in other lawsuits over controlling market share through physician referrals, according to the report.   

Read the full story here.


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