January 5, 2023

There is a lot of confusion amongst members of our Medical Staff about the relationship between Medical Staff appointment and clinical privileges.  For example, it is common to hear individuals refer to “Active Staff Privileges.” How can we help educate our Medical Staff on the difference between Medical Staff appointment and clinical privileges?

Many people confuse or intertwine these two concepts, even though they are separate and distinct.  As such, it is important that your bylaws recognize appointment and clinical privileges as distinct concepts.

Appointment relates to an individual’s membership on the Medical Staff (i.e., that they are recognized as being “on the team”).  With this membership comes certain rights and responsibilities, like voting, serving on committees, etc.

Clinical privileges relate solely to the patient care services an individual has been authorized to provide at the hospital.  They do not relate to an individual’s involvement in Medical Staff affairs and, in turn, are not tied to the individual’s staff category.  In fact, an individual may be a member of the Medical Staff but have no privileges (e.g., “Community Staff”) or could have clinical privileges but no membership on the Medical Staff (e.g., telemedicine providers).

Ensuring your Medical Staff Bylaws documents make this distinction will hopefully help to educate your Medical Staff on this issue.