Handle conflicts of interest with strong bylaws

Medical staff bylaws should address how to manage conflicts of interest once disclosed or otherwise determined—a critical, but often overlooked, step in ensuring a fair, consistent application of the defined protocol.

The context of the conflict should determine precisely how it is managed, but generally where a medical staff member’s interest conflicts with the medical staff’s interests, the member must stand down and remove himself or herself from the decision being made. Thus, if the conflict affects a pending decision, the member should recuse himself or herself from voting in that instance. If the member fails or refuses to do so, the leader of the meeting should excuse the member from the vote. Members of the affected committee or department should be empowered to vote a member out of the meeting if recusal or excuse does not occur. The committee or leader may force the member out of the vote, or may bar the conflicted member from participating in the discussion entirely. Developing a conflict disclosure form that reflects the relevant bylaw provisions can help both members and leaders understand and implement conflict of interest procedures in medical staff meetings and elections.   

Importantly, the medical staff bylaws should stipulate that medical staff membership and privileges cannot be affected by any declared or confirmed conflict of interest. No member’s financial or personal relationships should dictate whether a practitioner is qualified for membership or privileges.

Source: CRC News & Analysis