Hospitals Competing for Patients
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The editorial "Bolstering specialty hospitals" (Monday) is riddled with inaccuracies and misleading assertions about a serious problem that threatens to erode what The Washington Times claims to support: competition and true patient choice in health care decisions.
The vast majority of hospitals were founded and built by communities, religious groups and universities, driven by need and mission. Women's and children's hospitals also are an established presence in the hospital field, offering a wide range of health care services to their patients. However, a new and different breed has developed: physician-owned specialty hospitals born of self-interest and profit.
Health care science has changed rapidly, and hospitals welcome innovations in medicine, technology and care delivery. These are all ways in which community hospitals already compete - fairly - to better serve patients.
True competition sours when physician-owners of specialty hospitals who also exercise their medical-staff privileges at competing full-service community hospitals refer patients to facilities in which they have an economic stake.
Most patients rely almost completely on the advice of their physicians when deciding where to have a surgical procedure performed. Real choice means not having to worry that the motivation for referring a patient to a specific facility is anything other than what is in the best interest of the patient.
It's sad that the editorial uses deceptive information to dismiss out of hand the reality of today's "competition" between specialty and full-service community hospitals. …