AAEM will face hospital chain on managed care conflicts

San Diego, CA—Two differing factions in the debate over emergency medicine and managed care have agreed to a public discussion about the future of emergency medicine in an event timed exactly to capture the attention of emergency physicians attending a major scientific conference during that week.

The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) based in Milwaukee, WI, has reported that its leaders will hold a public forum tentatively scheduled for Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. at the San Diego Hotel and Marina.

AAEM officials say they have invited Kevin Fickenscher, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), a not-for-profit hospital chain based in San Francisco, to participate in a discussion about "the corporatization of emergency medicine."

The event is scheduled to coincide with the commencement of the annual scientific assembly of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) based in Dallas, TX.

Fickenscher has been at the heart of a debate fueled largely by the AAEM ever since CHW began merger discussions last year with Emergency Physicians Medical Group (EPMG), a 250-member practice also based in San Francisco.

AAEM officials blasted the proposed merger, which has not yet been concluded, as representative of a trend in which corporate entities allegedly strip emergency physicians of their clinical and financial independence. The trade group is also opposed to large contract staffing firms.

Both sides participating in the event have indicated that the exchange will not be a debate but rather a forum in which participants will discuss major trends in emergency medicine.

"We see this [event] as a dialogue, not a debate, that will offer an excellent opportunity for information exchange at a very public level," Kate Lawlor, RN, vice president of operations for EPMG told The Managed Care Emergency Department. The discussion, however, will not include details of the pending merger, Lawlor says.