An administrative law judge Wednesday backed a decision by the Florida Department of Health to allow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville to open a trauma center.
Administrative Law Judge Robert Cohen issued a 46-page recommended order rejecting a challenge from UF Health Jacksonville, which has long operated a trauma center in Duval County.
The case is one of numerous legal battles in the hospital industry in recent years about whether trauma centers should be allowed to open.
Lawmakers passed a measure this year aimed at resolving most of the disputes, but the Memorial case continued.
The Department of Health last year gave what is known as “provisional” approval for Memorial to open a trauma center.
UF Health Jacksonville challenged the approval on a series of grounds, including whether a “slot” was available in the state trauma system to open another trauma facility in Northeast Florida, according to Wednesday’s ruling.
But Cohen concluded that “Memorial met its burden of establishing that its trauma center application met the applicable standards” and rejected UF Health Jacksonville’s argument that the department improperly gave approval to the Memorial trauma center without an available slot.
Under administrative law, Cohen’s recommended order will go back to the Department of Health for final action.