RESOLUTION on protecting physicians’ due process rights - Submitted by Pima County Medical Society - Adopted by the Arizona Medical Association, June 2006
WHEREAS: restriction of a physician’s hospital privileges can destroy his entire career because of reporting to the National Practitioner Data Bank and subsequent actions by the licensure board; and
WHEREAS: physicians have minimal rights to defend themselves, even against accusations made in bad faith from anti-competitive or other malicious motives, in any proceeding that claims to be undertaken to protect patient safety; and
WHEREAS: hospitals control the entire process, including the flow of information, the selection of the hearing panel, and the conduct of the hearing; and
WHEREAS: powerful law firms representing hospitals give seminars to teach hospital officials how to remove physicians who do not serve the hospital’s interests (for example, by exposing quality of care issues); and
WHEREAS: courts are reluctant to intervene, presuming that whatever a hospital peer review committee does is fair, so that persons engaging in “sham peer review” have virtually absolute immunity; and
WHEREAS: the secrecy of the process protects accusers who engage in innuendo, slander, and unfair tactics to ruin physicians without just cause; and
WHEREAS: such unfair processes depend upon the collaboration of physicians,
RESOLVED, That the Arizona Medical Association declare that physicians shall refrain from enabling any process that deprives a colleague of procedural or substantive due process and that engaging in sham peer review shall constitute unethical conduct.
RESOLVED, That ArMA, through its AMA delegation, ask the AMA to adopt the same policy.