In January, a Florida appellate court upheld the denial of a physician’s request to halt a hospital’s intention to deny reappointment to the medical staff. The physician involved in the case was a member of the medical staff and was recredentialed pursuant to the hospital’s recredentialling cycle. The doctor asked the trial court to stop the hospital from implementing the denial until the trial court fully considered the case; which request the court granted. The appellate court, however, decided the trial court was wrong and overturned the decision.
The basis of the doctor’s claim was that the hospital didn’t follow the medical staff bylaws and that, therefore, the hospital’s decision shouldn’t be implemented, at least not until the court could have a trial-like hearing on the issue, which might take many months to schedule. The appellate court relied on a state law granting immunity to the hospital for the denial and stated that the doctor didn’t make the proper argument that would have justified the trial court granting his request to delay implementing the decision.
Specifically, Florida law grants medical staffs the authority for reviewing applications, but is clear that the final decision rests with the hospital governing body. Most medical staff bylaws codify the very same principle, though there is room to create more of a collaborative relationship between governing bodies and medical staffs on the issue. Medical staffs ought to be vigilant about the wording of their medical staff bylaws, since they are considered to be a contract between them and the hospital.
In the present case, however, the doctor was ultimately denied the right to delay the hospital’s decision because he did not argue that the hospital decision involved fraud. The case is yet another example of why medical staffs have to take a very pro active role in creating medical staff bylaws, which is no easy feat, since most physicians consider medical staff bylaw creation to be only slightly more exciting that paint drying contests.