April 4, 2024

We have a podiatrist who practiced at our hospital.  There were a number of serious complaints about her behavior and her ability to work well with others which we tried to address through our Professionalism Policy.  Ultimately, we developed a rigorous Performance Improvement Plan for Behavior, which she signed.  She resigned almost immediately thereafter.  Now, she wants to come back.  What do we do?

Many medical staffs have stringent threshold requirements that applicants must meet in order to be eligible for appointment.  While those criteria might render a physician ineligible if they resigned while under investigation, the criteria probably don’t include a resignation while under a Performance Improvement Plan.  You should check your threshold criteria just in case.

Remember, the burden is always on the applicant.  Even if your criteria do not render the podiatrist ineligible for appointment, that does not mean that, as part of your credentialing process, you should appoint her to your medical staff (of course, denial of appointment is always a last option).  You can require her to demonstrate that she meets your standards, including your standard to work harmoniously with others.  You can require her to address and resolve the questions that had been raised about her conduct before she resigned.

Furthermore, you could inquire about whether she completed the relevant elements of the Performance Improvement Plan.  For instance, if the Performance Improvement Plan included anger management, CME, and/or coaching elements, you could ask for confirmation (and evidence) that she satisfied those elements.  Additionally, you could ask about her practice history since she resigned, including whether she has ever been subject to any collegial efforts or progressive steps at any other facility since she resigned.

Just like with any problem applicant, you should tell her that no further action will be taken until she fully resolves the questions and concerns about her behavior.  It is usually a good idea to give an individual like this a set time frame to respond, as reflected in your bylaws documents and notice that “If you do not fully and completely respond to our questions in the next 60 days, we will deem your request to be withdrawn and no further action will be taken.”

If you have a quick question about this, e-mail Susan Lapenta at slapenta@hortyspringer.com.