When a physician wants to work at a particular hospital, he must apply to get privileges that the hospital has reserved for its medical staff. This requires an application process, much like when someone seeks employment at a company or firm. If a doctor is denied admission to the medical staff, he usually can appeal the decision to the hospital board, then in the courts of certain states if the hospital board affirms the denial. 

What Are Medical Staff Terminations?

After a physician has been admitted to a hospital’s medical staff, the hospital can terminate his privileges if he fails to meet the hospital’s standard of care. As with medical staff admissions, the physician can appeal the decision to the hospital board and the courts in some states. 

What Is the Standard of Review That Courts Apply?

In states that permit the judicial review of medical staff admissions and terminations, courts have adopted different standards of review for determining whether the hospital’s action was proper. When a physician is denied admission, the courts often require that the hospital have good cause to deny admission. This requirement is usually satisfied if it can be shown that the physician did not comply with one of the medical staff’s bylaws

The court may also require that the hospital’s appeals process satisfy "due process."  This means that the physician must have had adequate notice of the reason for denial and an opportunity to respond to the charge. When a hospital terminates a physician’s privileges and the physician appeals that termination to the state’s court system, a court can either come to its own decision based on the facts or uphold the hospital’s decision, unless that decision was not supported by any credible evidence.  Most courts will review the decision for support by credible evidence because of the complex nature of the medical judgments involved.   

Do I Need an Employment Attorney?

Denial or termination of medical staff privileges can have a serious impact on a physician’s livelihood and profession. If you have a medical staff problem, contact an employment attorney to get advice on your rights and the available remedies.