I used to do emergency work at a hospital in a large chain. It was hardy profitable and became less so over time. When I moved an hour away I sought to limit my emergency exposure for obvious reasons. The hospital administration cited sections of the Bylaws and Rules and Regulations that mandated that surgical specialists take call. This was specified for Plastic Surgery and Orthopedics.
Later and entirely by accident, I found out that the Orthopedists were being paid to take this emergency call by the same administration that was citing those hospital documents. Essentially they were being paid to take call from 15 minutes away whereas I was required to take call for free from four times the distance. Needless to say I dropped that hospital after briefly entertaining legal action. So soon after my divorce I hardly wanted to enrich another attorney. They are much smarter about getting paid than physicians are. I did inform a contact at the local newspaper who passed on the story stating that the public doesn’t really care if a doctor gets screwed over. I found that a bit amusing.
As the story evolved I extended my practice up the street not so far away and something similar almost happened again. This time the administration in my new acute care hospital sought to get into an arrangement with me to take call. They were very quick to stipulate that this arrangement was to be secret. It was to involve some kind of payment from the hospital. The thought left a bad taste in my mouth. Emergency call is a loser. I just stopped taking it.
The moral of this story is that you should not expect hospital administrators to be honorable people. Entering into any kind of business arrangement with them especially a secret one is liable to be unfair, unjust or just plain illegal. You might want to avoid that.
[Originally written for and published on FreelanceMD.com:
John Di Saia MD
Originally posted 2012-06-11 07:30:29.