Claim in ad causes dustup

An ad's claim of exclusivity that is now no longer true is causing a small dustup between Augusta's two largest hospitals.


At issue are ads promoting Medical College of Georgia Hospital as having the area's only accredited Chest Pain Center.

While it was true at the time the ads started running in January, that is no longer the case. University Hospital received the designation earlier this month.

And now University's leadership wants the ads to stop or change.

"They're now the first. We'll give them that," said J. Larry Read, CEO of University Health Care System. "But we're also now accredited."

University contacted MCG Health Inc., which runs the MCG clinical system, to ask for the change. But the ads are part of a large campaign that includes print, broadcast and direct mail, said spokeswoman Deborah Humphrey. And there are already contracts signed to continue it for a couple more months, she said.

Still, they will see what they can do, Mrs. Humphrey said.

"That's not the sort of thing you can turn around on a dime," she said. "However, we fully understand their concern and we fully intend to address their concern."

As to why hospitals want the designation, which comes from the Society of Chest Pain Centers after extensive documentation and a site visit, it shows that the hospital is pursuing "best practice" in treating potential heart attacks, said Marilyn Bowcutt, vice president for patient care services at University.

"Clearly they have demonstrated best practice for the performance of the delivery of patient care regarding chest pain," she said. "They've actually been certified, they've been reviewed and that organization has been recognized as providing excellence in the best practice for the delivery of care."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or


WHAT IS THE ACCREDITING BODY? The designation of an accredited Chest Pain Center comes from the Society of Chest Pain Centers.

WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA? The society uses a model of the best and most effective ways to treat chest pain, using peer-reviewed literature and input from groups such as the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. It includes things such as training emergency medical personnel and streamlining how and where patients are treated once they reach the Emergency Department, in addition to training and coordination of staff.

HOW IS IT OBTAINED? The hospital must not only document that it has all of the criteria in place but must also pass a site visit before being accredited.

HOW MANY ARE THERE? There are 12 hospitals in Georgia that have the designation, including Medical College of Georgia Hospital and University Hospital.