QUESTION: We have an applicant for medical staff appointment who disclosed on her application that she was under probation for a time during her residency. Despite our requests, she has refused to provide any additional information related to this matter. She also has declined to authorize the site of her residency to release any information to us.
We have language in our bylaws stating that the burden is on the applicant to provide any information requested, or his or her application will be held as incomplete. Is this a situation where we can enforce this provision?
ANSWER: Most definitely. Holding an application as “incomplete” is one of the best tools you have as a credentialer. And when it comes to enforcing such a provision, the case law is on your side.
Numerous courts have held that a hospital can refuse to process an application that is incomplete. For example, in a case with facts very similar to the situation described above, an Illinois appeals court held that an applicant must
“provid[e] all information deemed necessary by the hospital…as a condition precedent to the hospital’s obligation to process the application.”
Similarly, in a case where a physician up for reappointment refused to release information on pending malpractice claims, an appeals court in Tennessee ruled in favor of the hospital, finding that that application for medical staff membership clearly required the physician to assist in providing the information necessary to determine his qualifications.