This is the first of a series of newsletters describing medical staff issues.  Others will be at regular intervals.  


As Chief of your Medical Staff you owe a fiduciary duty to obtain unbiased legal opinions from your medical staff attorney.  If the hospital is paying YOUR attorney, there is a potential conflict of interest especially in matters of the drafting or interpreting by-laws, rules and regulations or policies as well as peer review matters. 

The June 1999 AMA Board of Trustees Report 3-A-99 states that “the medical staff maintain professional independence free from any interference influenced by considerations that may conflict with optimum patient care.”  This means the medical staff should be the patient’s advocate and not be under economic control.  The report also states that “AMA policy H-235.992 strongly recommends that hospital medical staffs retain their own attorneys so that the medical staff will have its own legal advocates for guidance.”

A second opinion in Medicine is always welcomed.  The same should be true in Law. You or your Medical Executive Committee have a duty to seek independent legal advice whenever you believe that there may be a conflict of interest, either real or perceived.  This is especially true in those institutions that tell their medical staffs which attorney firm they must use for all matters and those firms are in-house. 

I have many years’ experience in Medical Staff issues.  As a physician I have been a hospital Medical Director, Chief of Surgery, Executive Committee member, and Chairs of Peer Review and other Committees.  As an attorney I have put together medical
groups, performed employment and other contract interpretation and negotiations as well as advised on peer review, ethics, and general medical staff issues.

My background includes writing by-laws, rules and regulations and policies i.e. harassment.  I have expertise in peer review matters especially alternative dispute resolution and ethical issues.

Please contact me if you and/or your medical staff have issues you wish me to address in forthcoming newsletters or believe that I may be of assistance in representing medical staff or individual practitioner issues or perspectives.  I am enclosing business and Rolodex cards and would be happy to discuss with you my role as an INDEPENDENT medical staff counsel.

DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.