Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Good & Bad News for Carlyle re: LifeCare Patient Deaths

An AP news report on criminal charges against a Memorial Hospital physician contained both good and bad news for The Carlyle Group, owners of LifeCare Hospitals. Their New Orleans facility had the largest number of patient deaths post Hurricane Katrina. The good news for Carlyle is no mention was made of LifeCare or its private equity owner in the story. (However, this is not a new skill as the facility got no mention in three government reports. The White House Lessons Learned report and a Congressional Follow Up Investigative tome gave LifeCare/Carlyle a free pass while a Department of Homeland Security Planning document for future storms left out hospital patients all together!)

The bad news is the grand jury declined to indict the doctor for second degree murder or conspiracy to commit murder. "Criminal doctors" was one leg of Carlyle's two pronged defense. That a grand jury failed to bring charges against Dr. Anna Pou can't be sitting well in the corporate offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. Now LifeCare may be held accountable for allowing uncredentialled providers access to their patients. The district attorney said "none of the patients had been prescribed the drugs by their caregivers, and none of the accused treated the four before the injections." Also, Dr. Pou's specialty is eye, ear, nose and throat surgery. I've never seen an ENT physician as the primary care giver on a Long Term Acute Care Hospital Unit. I would find it hard to believe she had credentials to do anything other than consult on the unit.

Carlyle's remaining defense in those upcoming wrongful death civil suits it the federal government did it! The company claims "patients became wards of the government" when evacuation teams descended on New Orleans. As HCA shouldered the expense of helicoptering their patients from dead facilities, Carlyle's deep pockets stayed full of cash. Surely LifeCare's newest Board member knows of this disparity. And why does Carlyle want any trials to take place in friendlier federal courts? Will they visit Alberto Gonzales for advice on the most Republican federal court in Lousiana. Surely George W. made an appointment down there...