Medical Staff Representation
INDEPENDENT LEGAL COUNSEL
Choosing the right lawyer or law firm to represent the medical staff is a hugely important decision. Hospital medical staffs have a really hard job in assuring the quality of care in the hospital. Others have an even harder time assuring quality when the hospital administration may not be so friendly to the right of the medical staff to do its job, and may even interfere in how it works as a medical staff. But assuring quality of care and patient safety is a core ethical principle of the profession. California law, Medicare Conditions of Participation, and some accreditation agencies like The Joint Commission, further command it. All of those duties and requirements about quality and safety are embodied in the principle of medical staff self-governance: the medical staff being an entity separate from the hospital, but nonetheless accountable to it, for doing the things it must to assure quality and safety.
With self-governance rooted solidly in the law and ethics, also embodied in that principle are the rights of the medical staff to do what it needs to do in the way it chooses to do it, as long as it is effective in those efforts. There are a multitude of duties and activities the medical staff must carry out in doing its job, set forth in great detail in its core governance documents: the Medical Staff Bylaws, Rules & Regulations, and various other policies. Interpreting these documents and carrying out their mandates can be complex and confusing. Sometimes things just don’t actually work right as the words in those documents intend, and the documents themselves must be amended, updated, or seriously revised, all of which are exercises in medical staff self-governance as well.
Protecting medical staff self-governance is, therefore, critical to protecting patients and the quality of care delivered to them. With my experience representing medical staffs, as well as my long and broad CMA background, I strongly advocate for medical staff self-governance, and strategize with medical staff leaders on how to fully exercise and preserve it. All the while, I help my med staff clients understand that when they are responsible for assuring quality of care, they really have to do it. Then I work with the leadership to find the best ways available to meet the quality and safety assurance obligations so critical to patients and the communities served by the hospital.
I advise the medical staff leadership, medical staff office, committees, department chairs, and others, in every aspect of legal and practical medical staff operations. These things include committee structure and operations; the credentialing process; revision, amendment and implementation of bylaws and other governing documents; the full array of peer review activities and oversight, including ad hoc committee investigations, and clinical and/or behavioral issues of medical staff members; workflow and reporting structures; and helping the leadership to cope with the political forces and, sometimes, even administration forces, that may threaten to diminish or defeat the effectiveness of the medical staff to accomplish its many goals.
Assuring quality and safety is the core of the medical staff’s job, and when you think about it, it’s the sole reason for the medical staff’s existence. This fact adds further support to the concept that the medical profession is the highest calling of all the professions. I provide the medical staff thoughtful and experienced advice in my capacity as independent legal counsel. Having me serving as your legal counsel will add greatly to the power of the medical staff to do what it needs to do for patients, as well as for its medical staff members who deliver care to those patients.