Members of the Metro board that oversees Nashville General Hospital say they were unaware doctors in the emergency room were taking patients to court.
A WPLN investigation found that TeamHealth sued 700 patients who couldn’t pay this year, an exponential increase over the last two years.
Frank Stevenson chairs the hospital authority’s finance committee and says, while operations of the ER have been outsourced to TeamHealth, it still reflects on the hospital.
“It’s still under our umbrella,” he says. “And so we have an expectation to make sure we’re monitoring, covering, and looking into all of those things that are associated with this hospital.”
TeamHealth has run the emergency room since 2016. According to finance officials, the city-funded hospital pays the physician staffing firm close to $200,000 a month to cover the cost of treating truly indigent patients.
But the company bills patients with some ability to pay, even if they’re uninsured. And until this month, TeamHealth has been taking patients to court over unpaid medical bills.
The policy was at odds with the hospital itself. Davidson County court records show General Hospital has stopped suing patients in recent years under CFO Bruce Naremore.
“If it’s a patient that doesn’t really have assets, what’s the point of filing a judgement against them for $500 they don’t have,” he told the Hospital Authority board members Thursday. “We pretty much stopped lawsuits against patients because the return on the effort and the expense just wasn’t worth it.”
TeamHealth now says it will stop and offer more discounts.