Create a medical staff council

Dear Medical Staff Leader,

Members of your medical staff sit in meeting after meeting after meeting. It's time to think outside the box. Many physicians complain about the redundancy and insignificance of medical executive committee (MEC) meetings, and yet many organizations still do not know that they can easily and safely eliminate these complaints by creating an MEC composed of only medical staff officers (e.g., president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, chief executive officer, and vice president for patient care). The organization should also amend its bylaws to simultaneously create a medical staff council composed of the officers, department chairs, management, and the chairs of both the credentials and performance improvement committees.

The reformed MEC should meet as infrequently as necessary to conduct routine medical staff matters. The group would be responsible for advising the board of membership and privileging issues, medical staff bylaws amendments, disciplinary issues, policies and procedures, etc. (much as the MEC does now).

The medical staff council (a significantly larger group) would meet quarterly for more substantive discussions of strategic importance to the medical staff and hospital. Members of the council would be permitted to attend any meeting of the MEC if so inclined. The medical staff council would also review and consider any medical staff bylaws amendment before it was referred by the MEC to the board for approval.

For many medical staffs, this change would allow an informed group of dedicated physicians to handle the day-to-day affairs of the medical staff, while reserving matters of strategic importance for longer, more deliberative discussions by the medical staff council.

This practice is not only an efficient use of medical staff time, but it also complies with JCAHO standards and provides a greater opportunity for the medical staff council to participate in substantive discussions with management.

That's all for this week.

All the best,

Hugh Greeley