What should be covered by medical staff bylaws?
Bylaws are rules and a framework adopted by an organization chiefly for the government of its members and the management of its affairs. In general, bylaws should outline the administrative structure of the medical staff, how high-level decisions will be made in the organization, core due process rights of members, and the mechanism for adoption and amendment of governing documents.
When crafting bylaws, it is generally prudent to ask whether a particular matter could be better addressed in a medical staff policy and procedure. Because medical staff policies can typically be modified quickly by action of a medical executive committee (MEC), they are more flexible and adaptable documents. If a topic or matter is likely to face little change over time, it should be considered for inclusion in bylaws. If a structure, issue, or process is likely to need frequent modification, it will generally be more appropriate to address it in policy form. Some medical staffs create compilations of such policies and aggregate them by topic in manuals. For example, some medical staffs adopt a “Credentials Policy and Procedure Manual,” to house their credentialing policies or an “Organization and Functions Manual” to spell out the details of committees and their activities.
When reviewing the language of the bylaws, medical staff leaders often defer to previously published model bylaws that may not reflect contemporary needs and concepts. It is important to question whether historic approaches to bylaws’ construction, format, and content continue to be practical and efficient.