Unhealthy Diagnosis

<b>Ed Bradley</b> On Probe Of Potentially Unnecessary Heart Operations

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) tells Ed Bradley that executives at the nation's second largest healthcare company are "poster children for unethical business practices" in a 60 Minutes report on one of the company's California hospitals accused of performing unnecessary heart surgeries. Bradley's report on Tenet HealthSystems' Redding Medical Center will be broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., ET/PT.

Tenet hospitals have been the subjects of federal actions in Florida for patient endangerment and in California for evidence of illegal kickbacks to physicians; the federal government is suing Tenet for defrauding taxpayers.

Now the FBI is investigating Tenet's Redding Medical Center, an extremely profitable facility, and two of the hospital's doctors for allegedly recommending and performing unnecessary heart surgeries. Tenet says they first learned of the complaints in October 2002, when the Bureau raided the hospital and confiscated thousands of files, including those of 167 patients who died after heart surgery.

Stark believes Tenet was aware of complaints about the doctors before then, including Dr. Chae Hyun Moon, who ordered the surgeries alleged to be unnecessary, complaints which had been made for several years prior to the FBI raid.

"When [Tenet] has documented charges by people who have called [Moon's] practice to their attention time and time again, when their own nurses…other physicians were complaining," Stark tells Bradley, "It's pretty hard for somebody to say, 'Gee, we didn't know what was going on.'" Adds Stark, "These guys are the poster children for unethical business practices."

Neither Tenet nor Moon agreed to an interview with 60 Minutes. In Sunday's report, Bradley interviews three of Moon's patients whose recommendations for heart bypass surgery were overturned by other doctors. One of the patients, Dr. John Corapi, called the FBI after several cardiac specialists told him the bypass Moon ordered for him was unfounded and Tenet administrators at Redding Medical told him they wouldn't investigate. "I said…Investigate it. There's something that's not quite right and they refused," Corapi tells Bradley. "And it just sticks in my memory, Hal Chilton, the CEO, said over the phone…'We like our position. Seek counsel if you like,'" Corapi says the CEO told him.