Last month we told you about two doctors who were targeted for loss of privileges. In each case they eventually won. However, all had fallen out of favor with Hospital A in the past. The attorney fees in one case were well over $50,000. In one case, the loss of income was so great that the doctor could not keep his cash flow going to meet expenses and he had to file a corporate bankruptcy. He lost everything he had accumulated over 15 years of practice, including his retirement plan, but managed to keep his home fully mortgaged and thus of no significant bankruptcy value.
In the latter case, after winning, the hospital merged with another one in the same community. The two hospitals obtained a new license and so all the doctors were told that their privileges at the two hospital would cease as of the effective date of the new license and they would have to apply to the newly licensed merged hospital.
Seven doctors had been suspended over the previous decade from one of the two hospitals, and they were told that their new applications were being reviewed. The other five hundred doctors on the staff got immediate privileges.
Two of the seven doctors obtained immediate legal counsel. The other five said that they would get an attorney if they didn’t make it–How naive. The two with an attorney were given new privileges and the five without an attorney were not. After being suspended (not given privileges) they did obtain attorneys. The same attorneys that helped the two doctors retain their privileges for twenty hours of work or about $6000, told the others they would need $60,000 up front to take the case, and it could easily go to twice that with no guarantees. They were told it was almost impossible to get a hospital to change their mind once they had planted their feet into concrete and the hospitals could spend almost unlimited attorney fees to make sure they would prevail. The attorneys have a saying, you can pay me now or you can pay me later. But if you decide to pay me later it will cost you at least ten times as much.
The attorneys parting advice: Never, ever deal with a hospital, medical board, Medicare, or any agency that gives you privileges without having an attorney who specializes in medical staff privileges.