Over 35,000 patients, a majority who reside in North St. Louis County, are at risk of losing their long-term relationships with their current cardiologists and nurse practitioners.
St. Louis (March 19, 2021) – St. Louis Heart and Vascular (St. Louis Heart) today filed a $50M lawsuit against SSM Health Care for blocking access to SSM electronic medical records and terminating its cardiology hospital privileges, a decision that could impact cardiovascular care for more than 35,000 patients, a majority who live in North St. Louis County.
In a letter dated January 27, 2021, St. Louis Heart, a leading cardiovascular medical practice with 14 board-certified cardiologists in the St. Louis area, was notified that the SSM Health Care Board of Directors voted, without warning or consultation, to take this action in favor of an exclusive agreement with an unidentified, single-source provider.
“St. Louis Heart’s primary focus is the safety, care and access to medical treatment for its patients,” said Dr. Harvey Serota, FACC, FSCAI, a Cardiologist with St. Louis Heart. “This new arrangement by SSM Health Care’s Board of Directors prioritizes the company’s bottom line over the health of patients, eliminating our cardiologists’ ability to treat patients at SSM Health Care and its hospitals.”
According to the letter, the decision by the Board of Directors was not based on any competence or conduct failures from St. Louis Heart, which has provided care for St. Louis patients at SSM Health Care and its hospitals for more than 20 years.
Serota explained that one of the leading concerns that the St. Louis Heart cardiologists and nurse practitioners have is that the SSM Health Care Board’s decision to eliminate clinical privileges will jeopardize the continuity of medical care of more than 35,000 patients, most of whom live in the North St. Louis County area, a disadvantaged and underserved population with extremely limited access to adult cardiac care services.
In 2020, St. Louis Heart physicians and their nurse practitioners had more than 14,000 patient encounters and performed more than 770 procedures at SSM Health Care and its area hospitals.
“Our concern with the new SSM Health Care arrangement is that patients will effectively lose their trusted and established doctor relationships and will be at greater risk of serious cardiac injury or even death when assigned to someone unfamiliar with their health history,” added Serota.
About St. Louis Heart and Vascular
St. Louis Heart is a full-service cardiology and vascular practice with six practice locations in St. Louis, St. Charles, and Bridgeton, Missouri, and Granite City, Illinois. St. Louis Heart offers the most advanced, state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment services in the St. Louis area — all in-house. To learn more, please visit, https://www.slhv.com.
Ann Marie Mayuga