Rare Physician Win in Peer Review Lawsuit

Since enactment of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act in 1986, physicians haven’t usually fared well when they go to court to stop or delay hospital peer review actions, provided the hospitals follow the procedural steps set out in the Act.

But Dr. Patrick Murphy persuaded the Illinois Appellate Court that a trial court was wrong to deny his requested temporary restraining order against convening a peer review panel to consider terminating his privileges.

Last June BroMenn Medical Center summarily suspended Murphy’s privileges.  He sought a TRO and preliminary injunction against enforcing the suspension or reporting it to the National Practitioner Data Bank.  He lost in the trial court, but on appeal the Illinois Appellate Court granted him an immediate stay, enjoining the report to the Data Bank.

That was in July.  In September the Medical Executive Committee voted to recommend termination—not just suspension—of Murphy’s privileges.  He invoked his right to a hearing but requested postponement pending resolution of his pending suit over the suspension.  The hospital denied the postponement and scheduled a hearing.

Murphy moved for a TRO enjoining the termination proceedings pending resolution of the suspension suit.  The trial court denied the motion, finding that the hospital had acted within its bylaws (as required by the Act) and that Murphy failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits.

When Murphy appealed that denial, the Appellate Court again sided with him and reversed, accepting his argument that denying his motion would “essentially render meaningless his appeal of BroMenn’s summary suspension” in the pending case.

Aside from substantive legal considerations, it may be noteworthy that the court began its analysis with this pointed observation: “We first note BroMenn’s failure to file a responding memorandum as required by Rule 307(d)(2)(eff. Nov. 1, 2016).”

The case is Murphy v. Advocate Health d/b/a Advocate BroMenn, No. 4-16-0863, 2016 Ill. App. (4th) 160863-U (Dec. 8, 2016).

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