Bartlesville Doctors Struggle With Employer's Stance on Contraception

Apr 2, 2014

Contraception becomes a hot topic in Bartlesville after Saint John executives tell their doctors they can no longer prescribe birth control.

Bob Oliver is the town’s only independent OB-GYN. He said it forced his colleagues to prescribe it for other reasons, like acne.

"And then they were told that they would be audited, and if they wrote too many prescriptions for medical reasons other than birth control alone, that they would be, obviously, fired," Oliver said. "At the same time, actually, that would mean they were committing insurance fraud."

The directive prohibiting prescriptions for birth control reasons was issued last week. Saint John scaled back the policy that affected doctors at Jane Phillips Medical Center from prescribing birth control, but Oliver said there are still problems.

"We had a portion of the hospital in which the operations were run by a group of 10 doctors, and we were able to do tubal ligations there," Oliver said. "As of Jan. 1, we're no longer able to do even that."

That part of the hospital went back under control of Saint John.

A company statement said Saint John doesn’t approve or support contraception but its doctors may exercise independent professional medical judgment.

Saint John is issuing only the statement in response to questions.