box of files
Credit: tempest tea

“Sutter Health intentionally destroyed 192 boxes of documents that employers and labor unions were seeking in a lawsuit that accuses the giant Northern California health system of abusing its market power and charging inflated prices, according to a state judge,” Chad Terhune writes over at Kaiser Health News. “In a ruling this week, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow said Sutter destroyed documents ‘knowing that the evidence was relevant to antitrust issues. … There is no good explanation for the specific and unusual destruction here.’ Karnow cited an internal email by a Sutter employee who said she was ‘running and hiding’ after ordering the records destroyed in 2015. ‘The most generous interpretation to Sutter is that it was grossly reckless,’ the judge wrote in his 12-page ruling. Sutter, which has 24 hospitals and nearly $12 billion in annual revenue, said the destruction was a regrettable mistake. Employers and policymakers across the country are closely watching this legal fight amid growing concern about the financial implications of industry consolidation. Large health systems are gaining market clout and the ability to raise prices by acquiring more hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and physician offices. ‘It’s stunning what Sutter did to cover up incriminating documents in this case,’ said Richard Grossman, the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer representing a class of more than 1,500 employer-funded health plans.” Chad Terhune, “Health Giant Sutter Destroys Evidence In Crucial Antitrust Case Over High Prices,” Kaiser Health News.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...