Our Medical Executive Committee initiated a formal investigation a few weeks ago – the first one we have done in years. The investigating committee has met several times and is ready to make its recommendations. The bylaws reference a “report,” but the committee members would rather just come to the MEC meeting and give the findings in person. Is a written report really necessary?
OUR ANSWER FROM HORTYSPRINGER ATTORNEY LEEANNE MITCHELL:
Yes, yes, and YES. A written report is required not only because your medical staff bylaws require one (which frankly, in a heightened legal process like a formal investigation would be reason enough to ensure a written report is created), but, more importantly, should a matter that led to an investigation result in an adverse recommendation (i.e., revocation of appointment and/or privileges, a restriction of privileges, etc.), the investigating committee report will likely be the most important document that helps to explain the reasoning of the MEC when it made that adverse recommendation. Most medical staff bylaws permit the MEC to delegate the investigation process to another standing committee or to an ad hoc committee, and they do not require the MEC perform the investigation itself. The MEC then relies heavily on the fact-finding, conclusions, and recommendations made by the investigating committee. It is vitally important that such information be reduced to writing in order to create a strong record.
The report should include a summary of the review process (e.g., a list of documents that were reviewed, any individuals who were interviewed, etc.), specific findings and conclusions regarding each concern that was under review, and the investigating committee’s ultimate recommendations. Capturing that level of detail in a verbal discussion in a (typically) one hour or less meeting, where individuals are asking questions and side discussions often occur, is very difficult. You really want to have more than a set of minutes to rely upon in explaining the findings that were made.