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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

"Corporate medicine in TN, a lesson for EM residency grads"

Dr. McNamara

Thank you for taking the time to help me with my problem. However, I'm not sure what can be done. Here is some background...

I graduated residency 5 years ago and came to work in Knoxville for TeamHealth. I was the only residency trained doctor at my hospital and in most of Knoxville. As you may already know TeamHealth owns this entire area. TeamHealth promised me that no other FP/IM doctors would be hired at my hospital because they were going in a "new" direction.

I was an ideal employee (rather independent contractor): best customer service numbers at the hospital, just as fast as everyone else, and well respected from the staff doctors. I rapidly became Asst. Director of my ED (ascended the corporate ladder) and was responsible for the QA in my department.

One thing became evident after I assumed the QA; TeamHealth doctors (esp. the floaters) were suboptimal. Most were FP trained and overlooked a lot of serious problems. They admitted people that didn't need to be admitted and discharged some that did.

Initially, I took my concerns to my superiors and these doctors were eventually not allowed to come to my hospital anymore. Oddly, they were allowed to work at other hospitals in the area. New doctors would show up and again make serious errors over and over again. Staff doctors would complain to me because I was receptive and in charge of QA. After 3 different doctors in 3 years, I started to see a pattern. TeamHealth would place a doctor at a hospital until he got kicked out and then move him to another hospital.

I eventually got labeled as having "too high of standards" and my complaints eventually got ignored. Finally, I quit. I didn't want to work with doctors who I knew were dangerous and certainly didn't want to check patients out to them. I stayed late everyday to take care of my own patients. I eventually asked TeamHealth to let me out of my contract so I could move on. I had a 150-day "out-clause". They said no. I agreed to finish my contract. 120 days into my "out-clause", I get a phone call from my bosses (2 of them) telling me not to go to work. I asked why and they won't tell me. They state that administration at the hospital has asked me not to return (the only part of my contract which gives them permission to do this). And so I was fired.

Now TeamHealth is interviewing other candidates for my job (young, just out of residency), and I'd hate for them to go through what I went through.

Anyway, I'm not sure how you can help. I don't want my job back; I would just like to keep young doctors like myself from having to go through the same thing I went through.

I feel much better now knowing people out there feel the way I do. The guys in my group made me feel like I was just a "troublemaker". They agreed with me but are afraid to say anything because they are afraid they will get fired as well. "Protect the mother ship" is their thoughts. Besides they are FP trained and don't have the options I have.

Thanks again for letting me vent

TN EM Physician