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This weekend, an anonymous post appeared on a local blog addressing a recent Daily Times article of local physicians being reimbursed by pharmaceutical companies for their services.
The author of the anonymous comment also chose to mention PRMC and our catheterization lab as being under federal surveillance as a result of fraud. The two stories and the physician mentioned in that anonymous comment, Dr. Steve Hearne, have nothing at all to do with each other.
The surveillance of which the author speaks is a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) entered into by PRMC with the federal government as a result of the cath lab stenting issue dating back to 2006 involving Dr. Jack McLean. Dr. Hearne was not a party to that. Also, the agreement is not new news -- Peninsula Regional issued a release on that last year when we entered into the agreement. It has made our cath lab one of the most monitored, and in turn, one of the safest in the United States.
As we mentioned in that release last fall, working with the government on the CIA as part of our settlement for the McLean incident and fully cooperating with all reviews has culminated in an agreement that strengthens our compliance program. Our standards of accountability were exhaustively reviewed, enhanced and are now more comprehensive than at any time in our 115-year history.
The CIA offers staff and physicians additional training and education opportunities; enhances the ethical conduct component of the annual employee evaluation process; continues to improve physician peer review practices; maintains medical direction of the catheterization lab by a physician; obtains an assessment of catheterization lab procedures through peer review by independent consultants and maintains a toll-free phone line for individuals to express concerns related to possible compliance issues.
The agreement came about as a result of McLean's actions, exclusively, not Dr. Hearne's or anyone else's. Dr. Hearne's only connection to the agreement is that he has privileges in a cath lab that we have agreed to continue to keep monitoring more closely -- as we have since discovering the McLean issues 6 years ago.
To tie Dr. Hearne to that story in an anonymous comment is a disservice to him, it's dangerous and attempts to link the Daily Times story on his reimbursement from pharmaceutical companies to the stenting issue. The two stories are not remotely connected in any way. It was clearly intended to paint Dr. Hearne in an unfavorable light and tie him to something not of his doing and not as a result of his clinical actions. Dr. McLean's actions brought about the Corporate Integrity Agreement, not Dr. Hearne's.
If the public feels the need to comment, anonymously or otherwise, on Dr. Hearne’s agreement with pharmaceutical companies, that’s their prerogative, but this anonymous blog comment attempting to connect him to the McLean issue is like comparing apples and oranges. It’s not fair and it’s wrong.