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Dangers for the Practitioner

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Lee Goldsmith, M.D., Esq.

We recently received a call from a surgeon who had joined a large medical group that operated a number of surgical centers. After operating at a particular surgical center, the physician was informed that the center was terminating the privileges that were held.

Every application for privileges, for renewal of privileges and for renewal of licenses has a question: Have your privileges ever been revoked, suspended or terminated? If you answer “yes,” there will be a list of questions and potential actions that will prevent the renewal that you have had for umpteen years. If you answer “no,” you have lied on an application.

Neither the answer “yes” nor the answer “no” is an acceptable option.

The decision to terminate an individual’s privileges often has nothing to do with the competence of an individual. The cause, frequently, is power struggles, jealousy or economics. The only advantage that you have as the physician is in knowing that the facility does not want litigation. Neither do you.

When you are informed that an entity intends to terminate your privileges, your immediate response should be: “Before you do anything, I think that you should talk to my attorney.”

The role of the attorney is to act as an intermediary between you and the individuals at the center. If your surgeries are not wanted at the center, then you do not want to be at the center, and more often than not, an accommodation can be made allowing you to discontinue operating at the center – and the matter is put to rest. Your privileges have not been terminated, and the jealousy and friction will not continue. The answer “no” will become a realistic and acceptable option.

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