12 Nov Montana radiologist gets $4M in privileging settlement
AuntMinnie.com | November 12 – A Montana hospital has agreed to pay $4 million to a radiologist to settle a breach of contract lawsuit that accused hospital officials of reducing his staff privileges because he worked for a competing imaging center.
The suit alleged that officials at St. James Healthcare, a 100-bed Catholic hospital in Butte, MT, drastically reduced the staff privileges of radiologist Jesse Cole, MD, because he worked for a competing imaging center, Big Sky Diagnostic Imaging. Cole had previously been director of the hospital’s radiology department, where he had an exclusive contract from 2002 to 2004.
Cole was working without a contract on November 27, 2006, when he and three other radiologists were given a few hours notice to clear out their hospital offices, according to the lawsuit.
St. James had entered into an exclusive-provider agreement for radiology services and was bringing in radiologists from Boston as hired members of the medical staff, according to the suit. Cole said he was told by hospital officials that it was a “business decision.”
Butte has three imaging facilities: St. James Healthcare; Intermountain Imaging Center, of which St. James has 50% ownership; and Big Sky Diagnostic Imaging. Cole was working for St. James and Big Sky during the dispute.
St. James officials pushed out Cole in an effort to eliminate him as a competitor in the local radiology market, said Cole’s attorney Rick Anderson. “Jesse just wanted to work for whomever he wanted,” Anderson told AuntMinnie.com.
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