Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules against Deaconess

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules against Deaconess

Article excerpt

Hospitals making personnel decisions based on peer review proceedings may find some protection from liability in state law. But the law no longer protects the hospital from being sued by a physician who disagrees with the hospital's employment decisions, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has determined.

Jeffery J. Smith, M.D., had been granted full medical and surgical privileges at Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City for more than 20 years before the hospital revoked his privileges in February 2006. The review process that led up to Smith's loss of privileges extended more than three years, starting with the hospital's request for Smith to submit the required paperwork for renewal of privileges in November 2002.

Sixteen charts of former patients of Smith's were forwarded for review by Ohio-based Permedion, a medical quality review firm. Permedion's report, though not included in the court record, reportedly stated Smith's surgical abilities were above average and did not recommend any loss of privileges, but the report was treated as an anonymous review and was not signed by a reviewing physician.

In May 2003, Deaconess' Hospital Credentialing Committee recommended denial of Smith's reappointment, and the recommendation was affirmed by the hospital's Medical Executive Committee. Smith received a hearing in August 2003, but he objected to two of the three physicians who served on the hearing panel based on perceived bias. Smith was also denied an opportunity to cross-examine the writer of the Permedion report, despite his repeated requests to do so, the court found. The Fair Hearing Panel agreed with the recommendation to deny Smith's reappointment.

Smith appealed the decision to Deaconess' Board of Directors, and an appellate hearing was held Oct. 27, 2003. The appellate review committee also affirmed the recommendation to deny Smith's appointment, and Smith received a report from the committee Dec. 5, 2003. But Smith said the hospital's written policy is for the Board of Directors to render a final decision in writing within 10 days of the appellate committee's decision.

After repeated requests from Smith, the Board of Directors notified Smith a year later, in December 2004, that the appellate committee's report should be considered the final decision and that the board would not issue a final decision. …

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