OB-GYN practice countersues Prisma Health, alleges 'deteriorating' care quality and 'abysmal' conditions

Nine obstetricians and gynecologists say they were forced to leave Columbia, S.C.-based Prisma Health due to "deteriorating" care quality and persistent safety issues at the system's Baptist Hospital, according to an Aug. 14 legal filing cited by The State.

South Carolina OB-GYN Associates claim the safety issues started after Columbia, S.C.-based Palmetto Health of the Midlands and Greenville (S.C) Hospital System merged to form Prisma Health in 2017. In the filing, the physicians claim Prisma Health-Midlands poorly maintained Baptist Hospital's facilities in Columbia, hired inexperienced nurses and suffered from chronic short-staffing.

These issues created "abysmal" work conditions and "astonishing lapses in patient care, cleanliness, and unsafe hospital conditions," the suit said. The medical group claims these issues went unaddressed after physicians raised concerns with top hospital leaders and oversight committees. 

The filing is in response to a lawsuit Prisma Health-Midlands filed against the medical group in July for breaking a 10-year lease after two years to move to West Columbia, S.C.-based Lexington Medical Center in October 2019.

In its counterclaim, the medical group claims Prisma violated the terms of its lease by not providing them with a "reasonably adequate" hospital in which to practice safely. 

"We absolutely disagree and are deeply troubled with the negative statements made in the local media about [the] counter lawsuit … that our registered agent has not yet received as of Monday morning," Prisma Health COO Greg Rusnak said in a statement to Becker's.

Mr. Rusnak noted that Baptist Hospital is the only hospital with four stars from CMS in the Columbia and Lexington, S.C., area. He also said The Joint Commission surveyed the hospital less than five months ago and found zero condition-level deficiencies.  

"As you know, lawsuits can be filed with any allegations, and our standard practice is not to comment on pending litigation," Mr. Rusnak said in the statement. "Yet these claims are so egregious that we felt it important to defend our reputation."

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