Tenet Panel Finds Care in Modesto Was Proper

Times Staff Writer

Tenet Healthcare Corp. said Wednesday that its own independent panel of doctors had reviewed 23 heart surgery cases at Tenet's Modesto hospital and concluded that all the patients had received appropriate treatment.

The statement came in response to an allegation last month by Blue Cross of California that 13 of those 23 surgeries at Doctors Medical Center had been found by outside cardiologists to be unnecessary.

"When Blue Cross presented us with these allegations, we took them very seriously," said Stephen L. Newman, chief executive of Tenet California, a division of Santa Barbara-based Tenet.

"In every case Blue Cross questions, this independent panel ... concluded that the care provided ... was appropriate."

The panel of reviewers commissioned by Tenet consisted of four cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. Tenet said one was from Vanderbilt University, another from Georgetown University and a third from UC San Francisco.

Blue Cross of California had said its findings were based on a review of the cases by three cardiologists from Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Mayo Clinic.

Neither Tenet nor Blue Cross gave the names of the doctors they consulted.

Blue Cross last month stopped authorizing elective bypass operations at Tenet's Modesto hospital and told Tenet that the insurer would terminate its contract with that hospital.

Shares of Tenet fell 5 cents to $12.98 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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