Tenet sues to block OSHA inspection of Texas hospital

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare has filed a lawsuit to prevent the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration from inspecting the Hospitals of Providence Transmountain location in El Paso, Texas, to determine whether workers there are vaccinated against COVID-19 in compliance with CMS' vaccination mandate, Bloomberg Law reported.

The lawsuit, filed April 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, stems from the National Emphasis Program, which is rooted in a healthcare emergency temporary standard that OSHA adopted last summer.

On Dec. 27, the agency announced that non-record-keeping portions of the emergency temporary standard for healthcare workers — which includes rules regarding ventilation, physical barriers and other safety-related issues — would no longer be enforced. 

An emergency temporary standard is only valid for six months and, once the rule expired in December, OSHA lost the legal authority for the inspection since OSHA has not adopted a permanent standard, Tenet argued.  

OSHA has "begun the rulemaking process to make the ETS into a permanent standard, but they have not completed the process and issued a permanent rule," the lawsuit said. "Therefore, the [emergency temporary standard] cannot be the basis for a lawful search warrant."

Tenet also said workers at Hospitals of Providence Transmountain are vaccinated against COVID-19 in compliance with CMS' vaccination mandate.

Additionally, "without this injunctive relief and denial of any inspection warrant, THOP Transmountain will suffer irreparable harm" because citations "cannot be vacated even if the warrant that purported to authorize an inspection … were later found to have been erroneously issued," the lawsuit said.

An OSHA spokesperson told Bloomberg Law that the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

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