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Physicians Hail Arkansas Court Victory Against Baptist Health
Date:2/27/2009

Court finds patient-physician relationship is entitled to "exceptional protections"

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a legal victory that preserves the patient-physician relationship and promotes competition, an Arkansas state court has ruled that Baptist Health, Arkansas' largest hospital system, acted improperly by inappropriately restricting hospital admitting privileges and interfering with the continuity of patient care.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081209/AMALOGO)

The ruling in Baptist v. Murphy permanently prohibits an economic credentialing policy adopted by Baptist Health in 2003, which would have allowed the hospital system to interfere in the patient-physician relationship by denying hospital-admitting privileges to medical staff members based on financial concerns.

As the court observed, "The heart of this case is the patient-physician relationship. The relationship is entitled to exceptional protection." The court went on to say, "Strong patient-physician relationships are the underpinning of good medicine, and it was uncontroverted at trial that patients who have long term relationships with their doctors have better outcomes."

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS) successfully challenged the unfair hospital policy by arguing that the primary factor in credentialing physicians should be competency, not economic factors unrelated to quality.

"Hospital admitting privileges have long been considered an indispensable component of a medical practice," said Rebecca Patchin, M.D., chair-elect of the AMA Board. "Baptist Health took advantage of this fact to coerce physicians and squash competition from other medical facilities."

"Patients benefit when their physicians ha
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SOURCE American Medical Association
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