Physicians Prevail in Arkansas Conflict of Interest Case

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , October 6, 2010

The American Medical Association applauded the ruling saying it "validates a key legal victory that found Baptist Health, Arkansas' largest hospital system, acted improperly by inappropriately restricting hospital admitting privileges and interfering with the patient-physician relationship," based on financial concerns, said president Cecil B. Wilson, MD. 

The AMA's Litigation Center, State Medical Societies, and the Arkansas Medical Society intervened as plaintiffs arguing that financial considerations alone should not be grounds to deny physician credentials.

"Patients benefit when physicians have admitting privileges at multiple health facilities," Wilson said. "Free of Baptist's restrictive policy, physicians can now offer patients the benefit of choosing a facility that best suits their need for costs, quality and convenience."

Baptist Health spokesman Mark Lowman said the ruling was "disappointing" and that Baptist is reviewing it to determine the next step.

"As a matter of principle, many companies have conflict of interest policies," he said. "Baptist Health believes that it has an absolute right to have a conflict of interest policy, which denies privileges to a physician who has an ownership interest in a competing hospital.

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