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Sarah E. Coyne quoted in article “Medical Staff Management Can Be Minefield”

Healthcare Risk Management

Below is an excerpt:

Executive Summary

Addressing problematic physicians requires strict adherence to state and federal law. Failure to do so creates potential liability for the hospital.

  • Choosing how to investigate a physician is a key starting point.
  • Physicians may sue the hospital for wrongful termination, defamation, and other issues.
  • Deviating from required timelines can forfeit immunity otherwise afforded the hospital.

The process involves multiple decision points that must be considered carefully, says Sarah E. Coyne, JD, national chair of the Health Law Practice Group with Quarles & Brady in Madison, WI. If a physician begins to display problematic behavior, the first decision point is whether to address it through human resources for an employed physician, through the business manager for contracted physicians, or through the medical staff leadership.

“The medical staff leadership has a fiduciary duty to the patients and community, but as a practical matter it’s a lot messier to handle things through peer review and medical staff corrective action than through the employment process,” Coyne says. “The Healthcare Quality Improvement Act creates a process you have to follow for medical staff to retain immunity for peer review, and states may have peer review immunity laws as well. It’s good to have that immunity, but the steps you have to go through to retain it can be rather onerous.”

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