TALLAHASSEE — A state appeals court sided Thursday with several Tampa Bay area hospitals with long-standing trauma centers that want to shut newer trauma centers approved by the Florida Department of Health.
The ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal will clear the way for challenges to the continued operation of centers that opened in 2011 at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County and Blake Medical Center in Manatee County, both owned by hospital giant HCA.
Tampa General Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg have fought HCA for more than two years. Their argument: They would be hurt by the new facilities' siphoning off patients and competing for specialists.
The dispute has led to a complex maze of legal actions. But Thursday's ruling was a second important victory for the older trauma centers.
The ruling comes after the appeals court last year upheld an administrative law judge's decision that the Department of Health used an invalid rule to approve the new trauma centers.