Question of the Week

Do hospital-employed physicians have a conflict of interest with respect to private practice physicians in matters involving credentialing?  Privileging?  Peer review?

Some independent physicians may feel that employed physicians should not be involved in leadership positions for fear that their employment relationships could influence their actions.  Legally, there is no support for viewing an employment relationship as a disqualifying factor.  And we have rarely seen the type of political pressure from management that independent physicians worry about being brought down on employed physicians.

Of course, if a specific concern is raised about an individual’s participation in any given review, it always makes sense to consider whether an individual has a conflict that could bias the process (e.g., direct competitors, close friends, etc.).  These types of situations should be addressed under the Medical Staff’s conflict of interest guidelines.  But those guidelines should make it clear that employment by, or other contractual arrangement with, a hospital does not, in and of itself, preclude an individual from participating in Medical Staff functions.