Childbearing women denied anesthesia

Several women allegedly were not given epidural blocks while giving birth because they were unable to pay an amount above the Medi-Cal standard. Anesthesiologists who contract with Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, but who are not employees, refused to administer the anesthesia because Medi-Cal's payment for epidurals is low. Medi-Cal pays $57 for the insertion of the epidural and about $14 for every 15 minutes of monitoring by an anesthesiologist. Private insurance companies pay $175 to $300 for the procedure, and $35 to $60 for every additional 15 minutes.

Following are names and telephone numbers of sources quoted in this issue:

Dick Harman, president and CEO, Martin Memorial Health Systems, Stuart, FL. Telephone: (561) 288-5200.

Doni Haas, director of corporate risk management, Martin Memorial Health Systems, Stuart, FL. Telephone: (561) 288-5899, ext. 3004.

James R. Jensen, PhD, Risk Management Consulting, Portland, OR. Telephone: (503) 761-9613.

Michael Cohen, president, Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Warminster, PA. Telephone: (215) 956-9181.

Dan Parker, vice president, public relations, Advocate Health Care (Ravenswood), Chicago. Telephone: (630) 990-5606.

Mark A. Kadzielski, JD, Epstein, Becker, & Green, Los Angeles. Telephone: (310) 556-8861.

Charlotte Yeh, MD, FACEP, chief, emergency medicine, New England Medical Center, Boston; member, HCFA's task force on EMTALA. Telephone: (617) 636-4720.

Al Buck, MD, executive vice president, standards, performance measures, and research, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Telephone: (630) 792-5000.

Fay A. Rozovsky, JD, MPH, president, The Rozovsky Group, Richmond, VA; member, Hospital Peer Review's editorial board. Telephone: (804) 364-2956; fax: (804) 364-3072.