Medical Staff Investigations
PHYSICIANS UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE HOSPITAL MEDICAL STAFF:
MEDICAL STAFF PEER REVIEW ACTIONS, DISCIPLINARY CHARGES, PEER REVIEW HEARINGS
Medical staffs are responsible for assuring the quality of care of its member-physicians in the hospital. That’s not an easy task, and there are a lot of procedural steps involved in doing the job right. If you are subject to a medical staff investigation or peer review action, whether for clinical concerns, behavioral concerns, or both, your career may be no less on the line in the long run as if it were the Medical Board taking action. In the first instance, an adverse action against you by a medical staff is a tough mark to cope with in finding a new place to work. Secondly, a lot of adverse actions by the medical staff are reported to the Medical Board, which may prompt it to take its own independent action against your license.
Never treat a medical staff inquiry or investigation lightly, including a letter of inquiry about your care or behavior, or worse, a letter of reprimand, censure or admonition. Your goal is to be treated fairly in the process, and to take the most effective actions in properly defending against the potential for really bad results. Most physicians can’t do that on their own. While most peer review proceedings and investigations are conducted in response to legitimate concerns about physician performance or conduct, they can also be initiated in bad faith for retaliatory, personal or economic reasons. And unfortunately, there are cases where the process can be abused by participants on the medical staff who seek to advance their own careers and to drive out competitors, and act for reasons entirely unrelated to quality of care.
I represent medical staffs in my work, so I see things from both sides of the line in guiding and advising you through the process, including defending you in any potential peer review disciplinary hearing. The goal, of course, is to resolve the issue early on, far short of the need for any hearing under the medical staff bylaws. It is vitally important to get legal representation early on when the medical staff calls you to task or starts investigating you, even if that representation is, in the initial phase, to guide you in how you respond directly to your peers in a medical staff matter.