The Rape of Emergency Medicine, 2017 version

Summa Health, an Ohio Hospital system, recently changed ED contracts from their 40 year group to a new one. On FOUR DAYS’ NOTICE! Four days, over the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday. That sounds distinctly unsafe, beyond the gross lack of sense, or commitment to a 40 year partner.

In case you think this is going smoothly, here’s a post to the ACEP ED Informatics Section from one of their former doctors (reproduced here with permission in its entirety):

I wanted to inform you, my colleagues, about what is going on at my home institution.   You all know me as a colleague and a fierce advocate of patient safety in EHRs. I have published on EHR patient safety for ACEP task forces and I am heading up a new ACEP task force on EHR patient safety issue reporting. It is with sadness that I have to tell you what is going in right now at my home institution.  

Summa has gone to paper.  

About 36 hours ago, our contract was taken over by US Acute Care Solutions (USACS) formerly EMP, through a scandalous process, but they literally created no plan for EHR transition.  I was the director of informatics and I, along with the rest of the physicians, was notified 4 days before New Years Eve that we were out.  We were told that when the ball dropped, our contract was over.  The physicians coming in to take over were to arrive at the facility for the first time 1 hr before their shifts and we were to sign out to doctors that had no EHR access.  No access to old records, CPOE, PACS, etc.  They went the first 30 hours without access.  Nurses were asked to do triage protocols and put the orders in under the new medical director, the only one with an account.  This morning at 30 hrs into the process some were to start training.   Now, the only information I get now is hearsay.  We strongly believe the EMP/USACS has no chance of safely staffing our 5 EDs with a total of 175k volume using part-time docs who have other full time jobs.  Our 55 docs and 20 PAs are sitting at home right now, scared for the patients that show up at the hospitals where their group spent the last 4 decades saving lives.  As a board certified clinical informaticist, I offered my services up until midnight when our contract ended but they elected to move another direction.  To the patients of Summa, I’m sorry.

Anatomy of a takeover.

As all of you are emergency physicians, I thought you’d be interested in how something like this might happen.  It is sort of a tangent to the EHR story, but I’ll include it because it is so interesting.  I’ve attached various references and additional information about the ongoing issue.  In short, the wife of Dom Bagnoli (USACS/EMP’s CEO) is the individual our hospital assigned to work out the contract renewal.  USACS/EMP has long been our chief rival in the area, so this is an obvious conflict of interest. Summa has an ethics policy that against even perceived conflicts, so two of our ED physician executive recused themselves from the process although she did not.  EMP had former Summa contracts, but had poor quality, staffing issues, and bad EMS relationships and lost their contracts or sold them to other staffing companies.  The hospital system drug its feet on negotiations until the last minute.  Contract negotiations failed when Summa (the health system) wanted SEA (Summa Emergency associates-our physician group) to fund the residency core faculty hours and wanted us to continue staffing under-performing stand-alone ERs that were built in inappropriate markets.  We found out later that they had already been talking to EMP.  

EMP is offering $100k signon bonuses, and we have heard they are paying temporary doctors up to $1000 per hour during the first 2 week transition.  I do ask you as a colleague not to take advantage of this opportunity–it may benefit you this week, but it hurts us all in the long run.  

The hospital house staff council has voted no confidence against the CEO.  The EM residency director has pulled the EM residents from the ED to keep them from having to work with non-vetted, non-EM, and non-Board certified physicians.  He does not believe that it is safe for them and they should not be subject the undue service requirements of a hospital CEO’s bad decisions.  

We are hopeful that EMP/USACS will not be able to run the residency and the department, and that negotiation will resume to restore a safe emergency care in Akron.  

Sincerely,

Jeff Nielson

Newspaper Sources:

http://www.ohio.com/news/local/resident-physicians-at-summa-health-vote-no-confidence-in-system-president-1.737494

http://www.ohio.com/lifestyle/health/fire-chiefs-concerned-about-summa-health-system-emergency-room-plans-1.737312

http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/summa-health-bringing-in-new-doctor-group-to-staff-its-ers-starting-new-year-s-day-1.737043

http://www.ohio.com/business/emergency-in-the-er-come-jan-1-it-s-unclear-which-doctors-will-be-staffing-summa-s-emergency-rooms-1.736916

While I have no dog in this fight individually, all ED docs need to be aware that this isn’t just happening in the Bad Old Days, it happened this year.

I feel worst for the 55 former physicians and 20 PA’s of the Summa ED’s who were so disrespected by Summa, and fellow Emergency Physicians. It will make it very hard for them to trust in their new employment, wherever that may be. I hope they don’t take the money bait and help bail these new contract holders out.

For those who aren’t familiar with the title of this post, here’s a link to the original book The Rape of Emergency Medicine as a free .pdf.


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