Understand the difference between privileges and contracts

Per most states’ hospital licensure requirements, medical staff membership and clinical privileges are granted through processes outlined by the hospital’s medical staff bylaws. Those bylaws define the requirements for staff membership and delineation of clinical privileges. They also provide for various forms of procedural due process, including fair hearings (and any related appeals process) for adverse recommendations and actions. Procedural due process related to actions against clinical privileges are also required by the HCQIA (if the hospital wants to claim immunity from damages in subsequent litigation by the physician) and The Joint Commission in order to be in compliance with its accreditation standards, explains Catherine M. Ballard, partner at Bricker & Eckler LLP, in Columbus, Ohio. “This fair hearing process is intended to be objective, fair, and impartial for the affected physician in order to protect both parties,” she says.

In contrast, employment contracts permit termination without having to resort to the lengthy and often expensive medical staff process (which may or may not result in a loss of clinical privileges), Ballard continues. Contracts may be terminable by one or both parties without cause, or may be terminable when specific events occur. For example, the contract may provide that employment is automatically terminated if a physician’s clinical privileges are suspended.

Source: News & Analysis