In our August Anesthesia and OR Review we shared a story “Anesthesia group relationship with Trinity Health devolves into flurry of lawsuits” discussing the dispute between Trinity Health and Anesthesia Associates of Ann Arbor (A4). The lawsuits filed by both parties highlighted the high stakes and delicate relationship between health systems and their anesthesia providers as well as the possible detrimental consequences of upsetting that relationship. However, this story has a happy ending. According to an article in Modern Healthcare, the hospital and anesthesia group were able to settle their lawsuits and sign a new agreement.
Trinity Health and A4 signed a new five-year agreement allowing the anesthesia group to continue their long-standing relationship providing services to five of their original six Trinity Health Michigan hospitals. The agreement also released A4 providers from their non-compete agreements allowing those that practice at Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids to choose where they practice and continue to live in their community.
EHC Note: Trinity Health and A4 reaching an agreement in their high stakes battle marks a positive ending to a story that could have gone much differently with devastating consequences for both the health system and group. As consultants for hospitals and anesthesia groups across the country, we are often brought in to advise on and mediate conflicts which have the potential to escalate to the point that A4 and Trinity reached.
While underlying causes differ, often we are brought in because a hospital is unhappy with their anesthesia service or stipend, or a group is stressed by escalating costs, reimbursement challenges and requests for coverage of poorly utilized additional anesthetizing locations. The solutions and decision making logic is complex on both sides, but not uncommonly hospitals consider measures such as putting out a Request for Proposals (RFP) or employing anesthesia providers. Changing anesthesia groups can cause temporary to long-term upheaval for administration and the operating room. While each situation is different, we frequently seek a resolution acknowledging the issues for both parties and finding a middle ground acceptable to all. While this is where Trinity Health and A4 eventually landed, we strive to arrive there without the situation escalating into lawsuits.