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HOSPITALS: The secret to Sutter’s high margins?

Appears to be defamation suits! Yup Sutter just got awarded $17.3m because

Unite Here, one of the nation’s largest unions that represents hotel, restaurant and laundry workers, defamed Sutter Health early last year by sending postcards to women of child-bearing age in Northern California claiming the organization’s hospitals used unclean linens. The union was in a labor dispute with the laundry service that cleaned the linens at the time.

Of course the cynics amongst us might just wonder if Sutter’s continued combination of being the region’s highest cost provider and its most unpopular employer are in any way connected—and whether that really does indicate that Sutter’s only concern is to “enhance the health and wellbeing of people in the communities in which we serve through a not-for-profit commitment to compassion and excellence in health care services”. (Yes, that is their mission statement), especially when Sutter is happy to go to the mattresses to protect its way of doing business, despite in some cases the significant opposition of those communities to its unwillingness to get to a compromise. Still as they say that’s showbusiness, or whatever passes for it in the hardball world of American health care.

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Sutter isn’t a high-margin system – they lost in Davis because that’s where UC is anyway. And, at least they don’t have their very own complaint Blog like Kaiser.