February 08, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Hospitals and Health Facilities
A California hospital’s recent attempt to unlawfully dissolve its medical staff and replace the staff’s elected leaders has spurred the California Medical Association (CMA) to step in and urge more appropriate action.
The issue revolves around a decision purportedly made by the Tulare Regional Medical Center’s Board of Directors on January 26 to “terminate its relationship” with the hospital’s medical staff and “enter a new arrangement” with a new medical staff – one that has been approved by the hospital's board, according to a letter sent from Board Chair Sherrie Bell to Tulare’s medical staff on Jan. 27.
New medical staff bylaws, rules, elected officers and department heads were supposedly created during the shuffle.
In response, CMA and the Tulare County Medical Society (TCMS) sent a letter to the hospital’s board on Jan. 29 urging its members to “immediately retract and disavow” the board’s unlawful actions, claiming them to be “null and void as they directly violate numerous California laws and hospital licensing regulations.”
“Your actions also threaten the ability of physicians at the hospital to provide safe, high quality medical care to residents of the Central Valley,” the letter read. “We take these violations very seriously, and we will work with the medical staff as well as local physicians and community leaders to ensure that the laws and rules that foster a self-governing medical staff and protect patient care are faithfully followed.”
Self-governing medical staffs are vital to providing quality patient care in California’s hospitals. Under state law and Medicare regulations, hospitals are required to have independent, self-governing medical staffs charged with the professional work of the hospital. To preserve this autonomy, medical staffs have a variety of rights provided for under California law.
CMA has a long history of fighting for legislation and regulations that establish the right of self-governance for medical staffs. It is also the only statewide advocate dedicated to protecting the professional interests of medical staffs to ensure quality care in California’s hospitals.
CMA will continue to monitor the situation at Tulare Regional Medical Center and work with the hospital’s board to resolve this very serious issue.
To see a copy of the letter CMA and TCMS sent to the hospital’s board, click here.