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Surgeons Sue Hospital for Privileges

CHICAGO (CN) - Two surgeons claim a hospital restricted their ability to practice medicine in favor of in-house surgeons, endangering public health to boost profits.

Drs. A. Lias and B. Lias sued Swedish Covenant Hospital in Cook County Court.

The Lias say they practice medicine at several Illinois hospitals, including Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago.

They claim they have "been accorded only limited staff privileges at the hospital and have, at the invitation of that hospital, provided medical services for patients at the hospital, including but not limited to performing emergency surgical procedures. From time to time, and on a regular basis, plaintiffs have been requested by the Hospital to care for patients admitted to the Emergency Room and elsewhere at the Hospital and otherwise have requested the services of Plaintiffs on a regular, repeated, but limited basis over a substantial period of years and at all times relevant to the matters at issue in this complaint."

The complaint continues: "Swedish formed its own surgical practice with employed physicians which permitted Swedish to restrict the relevant surgical services for patients at the Hospital solely to the Hospital's employed surgeons. Recognizing the fact that this scheme would profit the hospital but endanger patient care, the hospital entered into an agreement with plaintiffs to provide 'fill-in' surgical care. Swedish did so to further an anti-competitive objective of limiting the numbers of physicians who would be able to provide service to the patients at the hospital to its own employees, a scheme which it acted to further by barring privileges at the hospital and limiting the access and availability to the public as to the freely available services of plaintiffs and other physicians, especially for those members of the public who were taken to or went to the Emergency Room of the hospital for surgical care. The anti-competitive nature of this scheme, and the fact that it created a public health risk, was admitted by Swedish when it recognized the danger its scheme created for the public and conferred on plaintiffs their limited privileges. This constituted acknowledgement that the scheme was both anti-competitive and created a serious and continuing threat to public health contrary to Illinois law."

The Lias add: "Defendant was and remains aware of plaintiffs' exceptional skill and knowledge as defendant has utilized plaintiffs' services to provide care for patients at the hospital when, as very frequently occurs, defendant cannot provide surgical services to patients because the necessary privileges to do so is limited to employed physicians. This was done in order to maximize the hospital's profits at the expense of public health care and at the expense of plaintiff's legitimate and expected economic advantage."

The Lias say they "should have unfettered surgical privileges at the hospital, have and continue to have the right to receive referrals from various physicians who have patients who have been and are now being provided care at the hospital."

They seek damages for Illinois Antitrust Act violations and tortious interference.

They are represented by David Novoselsky.

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