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Florida to revamp trauma facility approval; Shands files another lawsuit

Tallahassee, FL -
Published in the Jacksonville Business Journal on Monday, December 24, 2012, 7:39am EST


A day after getting hit with another legal challenge to the opening of a trauma center, the Florida Department of Health on Friday began an effort to revamp the way the state approves new trauma facilities.

The issue has sparked battles in the hospital industry and led to an appeals-court decision last month that found the department was relying on an invalid rule in deciding whether to approve new trauma centers. The department began a series of meetings Friday to take input about drawing up a new rule, with state Surgeon General John Armstrong saying it is time to “move beyond conflict to conversation.”

“Our frame of reference must be the most important person in trauma --- the acutely injured patient,’’ Armstrong told a group of industry officials, attorneys and trauma physicians who attended a meeting in Tallahassee.

But the meeting came a day after Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Shands Hospital at the University of Florida and Shands Jacksonville Medical Center filed a lawsuit challenging a department decision this month that allowed a trauma center to open at Ocala Regional Medical Center.

The lawsuit points, in part, to the Nov. 30 decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that found the department was using an invalid rule. It contends that the department doesn’t have the authority to approve new trauma centers until a new rule is put in place and that the decision to grant what is known as “provisional” approval to Ocala Regional should be blocked.

“Without this court halting these actions, the department’s rogue and outrageous conduct will be unchecked, the directive (in state law) for a uniform and integrated state and local trauma system will continue to be disregarded and petitioners (Munroe and the Shands hospitals), their staff and their patients will be irreparably injured,’’ says the lawsuit, which was filed in Leon County circuit court.


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