Disruptive physicians: Is this an HR or MEC issue?


A disruptive physician issue handled by the MEC as a peer review matter or professional review action is protected under the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act, which shields the medical staff and/or hospital from civil damages in the event that they are sued. Additionally, information disclosed during the MEC process that is part of the peer review privilege is confidential and not necessarily discoverable by plaintiff’s attorneys in a subsequent court case.

The way the MEC handles the issue often hinges on the makeup of the committee, Mr. Moseley noted. In his experience, older medical staffs tend to be more sensitive to the accused physician and question whether the behavior is egregious. Older physicians are generally used to a more “captain of the ship” leadership style, with the doctor as the authority figure. Younger staffs are generally more sensitive to concerns about a hostile work environment and lean toward a team approach to health care.

“If your leadership on the medical staff is a [group of older doctors] versus a mix or younger docs, they might be more or less receptive to discipline [for] a behavioral issue, based on their worldview,” he said.

Disruptive behavior is best avoided by implementing sensitivity training and employing a zero tolerance policy for unprofessional behavior that applies to all staff members from the highest revenue generators to the lowest, no exceptions, Mr. Peters advised. “A top down culture that expects and requires professionalism amongst all medical staff [is key].”

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