By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – Prime Healthcare Services has asked state regulators for a two-week extension until Dec. 10 to finalize its application under the Hospital Conversions Act.
The initial 45-day deadline – initially proposed by Prime Healthcare – lapsed on Nov. 25.
The reason for the extension, according to Prime Healthcare spokesman Edward Barrera, was to ensure that that the application to purchase Woonsocket-based Landmark Medical Center is complete. “I didn’t even know we had done it,” Barrera said. “It was a routine legal matter and changes nothing. It’s a complex approval application process and Prime’s lawyers wanted to make sure it was completed fully.”
In an unrelated matter, Primate Healthcare Services was fined $95,000 on Nov. 9 by the California Department of Public Health for publicizing a patient’s confidential medical records, according to a report published by the Sacramento Bee on Nov. 27.
The penalty was assessed against Prime Healthcare’s Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding, Calif., in a dispute regarding the hospital chain’s alleged billing practices.
A patient’s confidential records were shared when the hospital’s CEO sent an email to 785 people disclosing details from a 64-year-old diabetes patient’s confidential files, according to state investigators.
The state found that the disclosures were illegal because they were made without the patient’s knowledge or permission, according to the state’s report.
The reason for the disclosure, according to California Watch, an investigative news organization, is that the hospital chain was allegedly attempting to undercut a California Watch story about aggressive Medicare billing practices.
In response, Barrera said: “Please note that this was an initial finding. In California, the California Department of Public Health issues initial findings. Hospitals are then allowed to present their evidence to dispute, if they wish, the findings. Shasta Regional Medical Center has appealed the initial findings and penalties and believes those appeals will be successful.”