Doctors vs hospital

2014-02-21 00:00

A FIRM of orthopaedic surgeons is embroiled in a legal battle with Mediclinic Newcastle Hospital over plans to stop them from supplying their own medical implants to their patients, and using their own surgical equipment in the hospital’s theatres.

Orthopaedic surgeons Xolisa Mgele and Neetesh Patel, who are joint shareholders in the firm Drs Mgele & Patel Inc, accuse the hospital in papers before the Pietermaritzburg high court of trying to increase its own income at their expense.

They also said the hospital hasn’t indicated how, or who, would supply the implants in future. “We select the best implants available in the market at a reasonable price,” Mgele said, adding that suppliers kept them informed of new developments in the field.

“The implants we prescribe are thus clinically appropriate and the most cost-effective options.”

Mediclinic Newcastle Hospital manager Freddie Meiring strongly denied that the hospital intended to profit from the move.

He said the motivation for the decision — which the hospital had planned to implement on March 1 — was to increase efficiency at the hospital and to comply with the standard practice at all Mediclinic hospitals.

Acting high court Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati this week granted an urgent interim interdict in favour of the doctor’s partnership stopping the hospital from implementing its resolution to prevent them supplying their own implants and equipment to patients, pending the final outcome of the dispute.

Drs Mgele & Patel Inc have 30 days in which to launch their application.

According to an affidavit filed by Mgele, the practice was founded by a Dr U.K. Dhanjee, who had since emigrated to Australia.

He said the purchase price he had paid for his 60% shareholding in the partnership was based on figures that included the income derived from the provision of implants to patients.

The first indication that the hospital planned to withdraw the partnership’s “implant rights” dated back to November 2012.

Since then numerous failed attempts were made to resolve the matter.

Mgele said the “implant agreement” his firm has with the hospital is not unique.

The hospital had concluded similar agreements with other doctors since 1997 and many of these agreements were still in operation.

He said the hospital has, since 2012, been trying to cancel these or limit doctors’ rights in this regard. However, he alleged this process was being done “selectively”.

The doctor alleged it appeared to be an attempt by the board to increase the hospital’s income at the doctors’ expense.

His firm had over 17 years built up a “considerable” practice based on the implant rights it had at the hospital, he said.

Mgele denied the hospital’s stance that the agreement was applicable only to the original owner of the practice, Dr Dhanjee, and wasn’t transferable.

Meiring denied that Mediclinic Newcastle was being selective in ending the implant agreements with doctors.

He said the hospital felt “morally obliged” to allow doctors with whom it had originally concluded agreements to continue with this practice, but was trying to dissuade them from doing so.

He said the hospital would not profit.

“The pharmacy at the hospital makes no profit whatsoever on these items, charging patients exactly what it pays for them,” he said.

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