The War Is On: Why Your Medical Staff Needs to Incorporate and Obtain Its Own Independent Counsel

Charles Bond, Esq.


Medscape General Medicine. 2004;6(1):e36 

In This Article

Call To Action

Physicians ought to be mad as hell and not take it anymore. Accordingly, every medical staff should:

  1. Hire its own independent lawyer who is an expert in medical staff and who is a physician advocate. Lawyers who primarily represent hospitals or are paid by hospitals will inevitably have divided loyalties. Don't be fooled -- a hospital-appointed lawyer is not in a position to represent your best interests: these are the lawyers who signed on to the letter to JCAHO. Use proven physicians' advocates -- lawyers who just represent doctors, not hospitals or health plans. There are several such law firms around the country, and having their undivided loyalty makes the effort of seeking out these dedicated attorneys worthwhile (Footnote 7).

  2. Incorporate the medical staff as a separate entity to eliminate any challenge to its independence and right to self-governance (see FAQs below). A separate corporation assures the medical staff maintains control over its bylaws, establishes its own criteria for membership, and conducts its own elections. If the medical staff is incorporated, these matters are governed by corporate law, not the law of hospital/medical staff relations, which the hospital lawyers are now trying to manipulate and change.

  3. Ask your state and national medical societies to lobby for stronger laws assuring medical staff independence and outlawing hospital stipends to medical staff officers. Amend your own medical staff bylaws to preclude stipended doctors from serving on peer review panels, especially appellate panels.

Finally as a physician, you should be active and defend your profession vigorously. The hospital industry, the health plan industry, the government and allied professionals all want to take pieces of your profession, and your professionalism, away from you. Without the support of organized medicine (notably AMA and CMA), the medical staff in Ventura would not be able to fight. So join and become active in your state and national medical associations, and give generously to their litigation defense funds and political action committees. They are fighting for you. Now is the time to revitalize organized medicine, and it begins with individuals like you.