Scripps Health Statement Regarding Tri-City Medical Center Lawsuit

Today, Tri-City Healthcare District filed suit against Scripps Health, making a number of frivolous complaints about our business practices and our relationships with our physicians.

The lawsuit is a desperate and cynical effort by Tri-City to deflect the public’s attention away from its own well-publicized operational and management issues. Further, Tri-City is making a blatant effort to limit patient choice and to monopolize health care in the Oceanside, Vista and Carlsbad area. Tri-City seeks to prevent physicians from making the best medical choices together with their patients. We are outraged by this unprecedented attack on patient choice and competition. Under Tri-City’s complaint, a patient would be forced to obtain care at Tri-City even if both the doctor and the patient believed that better quality care or more advanced health care technologies are available at Scripps facilities.

The allegations in the lawsuit are completely unfounded. In the Scripps system, physicians determine where patients should be sent for care based on what is best for the patient. Scripps would never impede the clinical and professional judgment of physicians. While we encourage admission to Scripps facilities, and our affiliated doctors encourage their specialists to use Scripps facilities, we never require this if the physician believes a different clinical care location is more appropriate or necessary.

The patient safety claims raised by Tri-City are irresponsible and have nothing to do with care needed in life-threatening situations. Any patient calling 9-1-1 is taken to the nearest emergency department (ED), except for trauma patients who are sent to the nearest San Diego County-designated trauma center. This case is not about these emergency situations. This case is solely about situations where doctors are evaluating the most suitable locations for the health care needs of their patients.

Of note, the physicians of the former Sharp Mission Park Medical Group approached Scripps about an affiliation. These physicians believed an affiliation with Scripps was best for their patients, physicians and staff. When Sharp Mission Park approached us about working together, we did not turn them away. Tri-City was unable to maintain a business relationship with these physicians, and that failure has nothing to do with Scripps. Issues relating to Tri-City have been well documented recently in the North County Times Crisis in Leadership series and in the San Diego County Grand Jury governance model report issued just today.

We view this lawsuit as an attempt to restrict patient choice and competition and to divert attention from Tri-City’s unfortunate situation. Tri-City’s actions are all the more disturbing because this case will divert scarce health care dollars away from patient care. Not one penny spent on this lawsuit will improve health care quality or increase access to health care services.

Given the growing population and demand for health care services in North County, Scripps has stated publicly many times that Tri-City fills a need for health care in the region. Scripps recognizes the commitment of the doctors, nurses and staff at Tri-City for providing this care.

Scripps is not new to Coastal North County. In fact, Scripps has been serving this area since 1978 when we purchased Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. In addition, area residents have been served by Scripps for more than 25 years through the county’s regional trauma system, which has designated Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla as the regional trauma center for Coastal North County. Despite claims made in the lawsuit, Tri-City Medical Center is not a trauma center.

For more than 85 years, Scripps has provided high quality health care to the San Diego region. We believe patients want and deserve a choice in health care providers and we are proud to offer them the nationally recognized care our physicians and staff deliver every day.