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UT Southwestern Responds to "The List"

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Turns out that John Walls, assistant VP of Public Affairs over at UT Southwestern Medical Center of Dallas, is a pretty good Friend of Unfair Park's. He called a little while to discuss last night's and this morning's items concerning The List -- and, yeah, he sounded a little beaten, though he swears it's just his West Texas way of talkin' ... real ... slow.

Walls, a hell of a nice guy, was pretty good-natured about the whole thing, to a point. Said it was a 2003 list created from a hodgepodge of sources: board members, folks who happened to be on campus, donors, conference attendees, you name it. And, yes, there's a more current version of The List somewhere, but Walls says to think nothing of it. "There are indigent patients on there as well," he says, as are regular folks who've made complaints about their stays in the past. They make The List so staffers can make sure they're satisfied the second time though, if necessary. And Walls insists, though he shouldn't have to, that UT Southwestern treats all its patients with the same level of care.

After the jump is UT Southwestern's official response to today's Dallas Morning News (and, sure, tonight's KTVT-Channel 11) story. But like I told him this morning, most folks I know just find the whole thing kind of amusing. "Status symbol" is a phrase that keeps popping up. It's just so ... Dallas, ya know? --Robert Wilonsky

Statement from UT Southwestern Medical Center

November 9, 2007

UT Southwestern is dedicated to the provision of outstanding medical care to all of its patients without regard to economic status or any other factors. There is no difference in the quality of medical care provided to indigent and insured patients.The medical care provided by UT Southwestern’s faculty physicians to indigent and uninsured patients represents the largest volume of such care rendered by any medical school in the country and is of unsurpassed quality.

No state tax funds are appropriated to UT Southwestern for the provision of patient care and service; rather, funding for the medical care and services we provide to indigent and private patients is derived from fees paid by patients and their insurance, contracts for clinical services and philanthropic donations. This is equally true for all patients, including the list of patients that was recently published in The Dallas Morning News.

Non-medical courtesies that are provided occasionally to individuals known personally to members of the UT Southwestern community are typical of the practices at most major medical centers nationally and locally. Any such courtesies have de minimus financial value and do not provide a different degree of medical excellence or quality of care.

UT Southwestern is totally committed to the principle of patient privacy and to strict adherence to the spirit and letter of federal and state patient confidentiality laws and medical ethical standards. Accordingly, the institution does not discuss issues of medical care and service as they relate to individual patients, and we view any intrusion into the privacy of patients as unacceptable. The institution will not, on principle, participate in any activities or discussions by media representatives or others that involve confidential and privileged patient information.

UT Southwestern regards the acquisition and/or utilization of confidential patient information by unauthorized parties for non-medical purposes (including, but not limited to, social security numbers) as inappropriate, and many health care professionals and patients would consider it to be unethical.

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