The nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain is reportedly under scrutiny for cardiology services at about 10 of its 163 hospitals.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami contacted HCA Holdings (NYSE:HCA) in July to solicit information about the “medical necessity” of some of the company’s intervention-based cardiology services, HCA said Monday during its second-quarter earnings conference call.
HCA’s disclosure about the questions came the same day The New York Times published a story about the matter. In the article, the Times alleges that HCA “uncovered evidence as far back as 2002 and as recently as late 2010 showing that some cardiologists at several of its hospitals in Florida were unable to justify many of the procedures they were performing.”
The Times also claims that internal reports from HCA offer proof that some doctors falsified notes in patients’ files to make it appear as though unnecessary procedures were warranted.
Since HCA had been aware that the Times was working on a story about the procedures, it posted a formal statement on its website.
“These physician-driven decisions have been and are the subject of much debate within the cardiology community,” HCA said in the statement. “Accordingly, there is variation across the country, between regions, within regions, and even within the same medical staff or medical group regarding this issue.”
HCA is not the only health care entity to have been questioned about its practices by the U.S. Attorney’s office, Bloomberg reports. Teva Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:TEVA), Johnson & Jonson (NYSE:JNJ) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) have all been prodded by the government recently. In July, Glaxo agreed to pay $3 billion in fines for improperly promoting four of its drugs.
Amid the news of the controversy, HCA shares dropped 4% by the end of trading, Monday. However, HCA rebounded earlier today. HCA shares were up more than 5% during early afternoon trading.
The full story posted by The New York Times, which includes interviews from an HCA nurse, can be read at nytimes.com. The letter from HCA can be found on the document section of its website, hcahealthcare.com.