A federal judge has ordered the Queen’s Medical Center to reinstate privileges for a Honolulu oncologists and five of his colleagues after the hospital’s board of directors voted last August to deny use of its radiology department to Pacific Radiation Oncology, LLC.
Doctors who makeup Hawaii’s oldest oncology group filed a lawsuit in late January, alleging Queen’s had engaged in unfair competition and broke anti-trust laws when they were denied accesst.
“This was a power play by Queen’s to establish a virtual monopoly for radiation therapy on Oahu,” said Lederer, during a press conference at his attorney’s office in downtown Honolulu.
On Tuesday, federal Judge Leslie Kobayashi issued a preliminary injunction against Queen’s, ordering the hospital to reinstate privileges for Dr. Lederer and other oncologists at PRO. Queen’s is appealing the judge’s decision, but Kobayashi ruled the order would remain in effect until dissolved by the court.
“So this injunction now makes sure that the patients won't be the pawns in this controversy,” said Mark Davis, the plaintiff’s attorney.
Lederer said the denial of privileges by Queen’s would not have been problematic if Hawaii Medical Centers East and West remained open.
However, both hospitals closed their doors in late January, which meant Queen’s was the only facility offering specialized cancer treatments. For example, stereotactic body radiation therapy, which uses precisely targeted radiation to attack tumors in just a few treatments.
“The Queen's unit is the only unit at this point that's really able to do that with the sort of certainty that's required,” said Lederer.
According to the lawsuit, Queen’s told eight private oncologists they would have to become salaried employees in order to gain access to the hospital’s radiology department. Two oncologists at Kuakini Health System agreed, but physicians at PRO refused.
“Not only become salaried employees of Queen's, but also divest themselves of the two competitors that were then competing with Queen's,” said Davis. “It was an effort as PRO and we saw it, to establish a complete monopoly on the radiation oncology services here in Hawaii.”