Judge Upholds Validity of Allegations, Orders Lawsuit Against
Forrest General Hospital and AAA Ambulance to Move Forward
Hattiesburg, MS – Forrest General Hospital’s petition to dismiss the lawsuit filed earlier this year by Wesley Medical Center has been denied. United State District Judge Keith Starrett ruled this week that there was sufficient cause to move forward with the lawsuit, which alleges AAA Ambulance Company and its part-owner, Forrest General Hospital, have engaged in improper practices that deny local residents their choice of hospitals for emergency care.
Wesley brought suit in April in response to ongoing complaints from patients. The lawsuit includes examples of several local residents that explicitly asked AAA Ambulance personnel to transport them to Wesley Medical Center for emergency care, but instead their requests were ignored or denied and they were each transported against their preference to Forrest General Hospital.
“We are pleased that Judge Starrett has given patients the opportunity to be heard by allowing this suit to move forward,” said Mike Neuendorf, CEO for Wesley Medical Center. “Since the lawsuit was filed, even more individuals have contacted us with stories of how they were ignored, manipulated and deceived when they asked AAA Ambulance Service to take them to their hospital of choice, Wesley Medical Center. These patients have asked us to help, and it is our hope that the suit will restore their patient choice rights.”
Included in the lawsuit is the allegation that patients were falsely classified as “trauma” patients and told they could be taken only to Forrest General Hospital, when, in fact, they did not meet trauma criteria and could have received care at Wesley. Some were falsely told Wesley did not have the physician specialists or capabilities to care for their medical emergencies. Others were told their emergency treatment would be delayed while AAA Ambulance sought permission to take them to Wesley, even though Wesley was the closest hospital, the preferred hospital, and had the capabilities to care for their conditions.
Forrest General Hospital and AAA Ambulance Service asked that the suit be dismissed, citing a lack of validity in the Wesley claims. The motion to dismiss was denied, and thus the lawsuit will move forward.
“Wesley Medical Center is the hospital of choice for many patients because of the quality of our care,” said Neuendorf. “They’ve placed their trust in us and we take that responsibility very seriously. Ensuring patients the right to be transported to the hospital they prefer is an important part of providing them the care they deserve.”
The suit is expected to move forward immediately.
About Wesley Medical Center
Wesley Medical Center is dedicated to providing high quality medical services and personal, compassionate care. Ranked as the number one hospital in Mississippi for Cardiac Care, Major Orthopedic Care, Joint Replacement, Spinal Surgery and GI Care by Carechex, a medical quality rating service of the Delta Group, Wesley has earned its reputation as an outstanding provider of medical care. Wesley also has been recognized by The Joint Commission as a Top Performer in Key Quality Measures for the second year, one of only 244 hospitals in the nation to earn this distinction. Wesley operates the area’s first and only accredited Chest Pain Center and is Heart Failure Accredited. For more information about Wesley and the services offered, call 601-268-8000 or visit Wesley.com.