Meeting Hospital Medical Staff Challenges
Peer review and Medical staff actions are often the first formal arena for incidents involving adverse patient outcomes or addressing disruptive physicians (and other practitioners or staff) in hospital settings. Effective legal guidance at this stage can help prevent disciplinary action and decrease or avoid future litigation.
Veteran Bonne Bridges attorney Sara Hersh has been defending physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists and other health care professionals in malpractice cases, at hearings, arbitrations, jury trials and before licensing boards for the past 22 years. In her practice, Sara has focused on advising the medical staffs of numerous hospitals and clinics. She provides us with a glimpse into the current legal challenges that medical staffs face.
How do you work with medical staffs?
The medical staff is a self-governing legal entity, which is responsible for the safe and competent medical treatment rendered by its staff physicians. It is accountable to the hospital’s governing body. I guide medical staffs in their peer review process and formal hearing process. This can entail helping them make recommendations for changes or modifications to a physician’s hospital practice. Medical staffs may also consider when indicated, whether proctoring or discipline is the course to follow.
Any new developments for medical staffs in the past year?
I have noticed an increase in the number of complaints brought before medical staffs and reported to the Medical Board. Also, there is an increase in negative publicity that some physicians and practices have received, which in turn has spurred more people to come forward with complaints to the medical staff, hospital administration, and the Medical Board.
What has been keeping you and your clients busy?
Compliance with changes in statutes and requirements by accreditation bodies, continue to be significant issues for clients. Hospital programs interface with the Medical Staff. For example, I am working with one major hospital’s medical staff in its launch of a residency program to ensure the training program is fully compliant and the extensive documentation to the approving entity is complete. I work with medical staffs to help them balance the numerous concerns of patients, hospital administration, hospital personnel, individual physicians, and accreditation bodies.