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AMA News Room

Feb. 15, 2013

AMA and Others Support Physician Fight for Autonomy

For immediate release:
Feb. 15, 2013

Medical staff has the right to make patient care decisions free of hospital interference

CHICAGO -- The American Medical Association (AMA) and several other physician organizations have filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting a court appeal by physicians seeking to re-establish a balance at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center that allows physicians to protect patients' safety and lets administrators run the hospital effectively. This balance was upset when the governing board at the Minnesota hospital unilaterally amended the medical staff’s bylaws and took away the medical staff's right to self-govern.

The brief supports re-establishing the independence of the hospital's medical staff to ensure their right and responsibility to uphold the quality of patient care, without improper interference or control by the hospital’s governing board.

Medical staff leaders filed suit alleging the new bylaws strip physicians of “nearly all rights and responsibilities” and give Avera’s governing board controlling power in processes that require medical staff direction. However, a Minnesota District Court refused to recognize the medical staff’s lawsuit or the contractual nature of the original bylaws.

“The Minnesota District Court made a serious error that gave Avera’s governing board unchecked power over the medical staff,” said AMA President Jeremy A Lazarus. M.D. "Our brief urges the state's court of appeals to reverse this mistake and allow the medical staff to press its genuine case for self-governance. Restoring the medical staff's autonomy will assure an accountable balance between patient care and corporate interests at the hospital.”

The brief was led by the Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies, a legal action coalition consisting of the AMA and medical societies from each state plus the District of Columbia. Other organizations that signed on to the AMA brief include the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Minnesota Medical

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Contact:

Robert J. Mills
American Medical Association
(312) 464-5970

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