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Physicians Need to Be Aware of ‘Star Chamber’ Proceedings in Hospitals, according to Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

The use of sham peer review by hospitals to remove physicians who do not go along with administration goals is not new, but there is a growing trend to use procedures that deprive physicians of any due process or fundamental fairness, writes Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Methods include Focused Professional Practice Evaluations (FPPE) and

Performance Improvement Plans (PIP). If these are negotiated as an alternative to a formal peer review process, it can be a good outcome for the physician. However, these can be used as a form of perpetual harassment, in which the “goal posts” are constantly moved.

Physician Health Programs (PHPs) historically have provided a viable means for a physician addicted to alcohol or drugs to obtain necessary treatment so as to be able to return to the practice of medicine. PHPs have been very beneficial in this regard. However, they have become a lucrative business. False accusations occur, leading to costly courses of unwarranted “treatment” at the physician’s own expense, along with stigmatization and harm to his career.

These methods are often steeped in coercion. Physicians may also be required to sign “professionalism” agreements, some of which deprive physicians of any due-process protections.

Likewise, physicians and their attorneys should be alert to medical board contract provisions under which the medical board essentially “owns” the physician’s body for the rest of his medical career. For example, they may require that the doctor get permission from the medical board for certain medications (e.g., all controlled substances) before being able to take a medication legitimately prescribed by the doctor’s physician.

Hospitals and medical boards wield all the power, but physicians who are aware of the tactics may be able to mitigate some effects. The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

Read Full Article: https://jpands.org/vol28no3/huntoon.pdf

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