QUESTION: We had an applicant who “forgot” to disclose two hospitals where she practiced in the past when she completed her application form. We found out about one of them through a National Practitioner Data Bank query and the other when we directed her to correct her application form. She was very apologetic and said it was an accident because her office manager completed the form. What do we do with this now that we feel like she wasn’t honest? It seems unlikely that she “forgot” an affiliation where they restricted her privileges.
ANSWER: Misstatements and omissions on application forms can certainly be very serious and the concerns that your medical staff leaders have are justified. The act of completing a medical staff application form is a practitioner’s very first administrative contact with the hospital. As an administrative function, we recommend having an administrative response when this type of discrepancy is discovered. That response should not be an invitation to “correct” the application form, because through the use of such language, it implies to the practitioner that there are no concerns raised by their initial completion of the form or that those concerns are fully resolved by their “correcting” the erroneous information.
Rather, we recommend having medical staff bylaws/credentials policy language that clearly states that the hospital will stop processing an application if a misstatement or omission is discovered – and if it is not discovered until after appointment has been granted, that appointment will be automatically relinquished. The applicant should be notified of the misstatement or omission and given an opportunity to respond, and then there should be an administrative-level review of that response to determine whether or not to move forward. The same language should be on the application form release that the individual signs upon completing the application form. Addressing this issue on an administrative level means avoiding words like “rejection” or “termination” of the application or “denying” the application – which is an action that is only ever taken following a comprehensive review of the application and all supporting materials in its entirety.