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Mark Murfin, M.D v. St. Mary's Good Samaritan

December 19, 2012

MARK MURFIN, M.D., PLAINTIFF,
v.
ST. MARY'S GOOD SAMARITAN, INC., AN ILLINOIS NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stiehl, District Judge:

ORDER

Before the Court is plaintiff Mark Murfin's motion for a hearing on his petition for a preliminary injunction (Doc. 21). Plaintiff, a physician, can no longer treat patients at St. Mary's Hospital because defendant St. Mary's Hospital, Centralia, Illinois, revoked his hospital privileges after an incident between plaintiff and two nurses.*fn1 Plaintiff suggests that defendant violated its bylaws and credentials manual (breach of contract), the Hospital Licensing Act of Illinois, and the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 by not providing certain procedural protections, such as a hearing, before revoking his privileges. He also seeks to enjoin defendant from reporting the revocation to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Mark Murfin is a physician licensed in Illinois, and defendant St. Mary's Hospital, Centralia, Illinois, is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation that operates St. Mary's Hospital. For many years, plaintiff was a member of the physicians' consulting medical staff of St. Mary's with hospital privileges to see and treat patients there.

On August 16, 2012, plaintiff and two nurses at St. Mary's had what plaintiff characterizes as a disagreement. According to defendant, plaintiff yelled at one of the nurses, poking her repeatedly in the chest, then pushed her against the wall with his finger in her chest. The nurses filed written occurrence reports with management at St. Mary's. Management then submitted a request for a formal investigation or corrective action. A meeting of the Medical Executive Committee took place on about August 22, 2012, to consider the request. Afterward, plaintiff was told that the Committee recommended he attend anger-management counseling, issue a letter of apology to the two employees, and-though he is not certain of this-that he accept a 30-day suspension of his hospital privileges. Plaintiff informed the Committee that he would accept the Committee's recommendations.

The next day, the Board of Directors met and voted to terminate plaintiff's staff privileges at St. Mary's altogether. Plaintiff was not informed of (or given the opportunity to attend) the Board meeting. He was later notified in writing of the Board's decision.

On September 11, 2012, plaintiff sent defendant a letter demanding a hearing be-fore the ad hoc committee of physicians with respect to the Committee's recommendation of a 30-day suspension of his hospital privileges.*fn2 Defendant has denied a hearing.

Plaintiff suggests defendant's actions violated its own bylaws as well as state and federal law. Plaintiff asserts that the Committee's recommendations constituted an "ad-verse action" as defined in defendant's Credentials and Hearing and Appellate Review Policy and Procedure Manual ("Credentials Manual"), § 9.2.2(f). That section states:

No Recommendation or act of the Executive Committee or Board other than those hereinafter enumerated . shall be considered an Adverse Action and, therefore, grounds for a hearing: . (f) Restriction, suspension or revocation of admitting and/or clinical privileges. (Doc. 2, Ex. 1, p. 74). He therefore appears to mean that the Committee's recommendation that he accept a 30-day suspension of his hospital privileges was an adverse action. He also contends that he was only informed orally of the Committee's recommendations, even though he was entitled to written notice and the right to appeal the recommendations, ac-cording to defendant's Credentials Manual and Bylaws.

But plaintiff submits, in the alternative, that the Committee might not have recom-mended the suspension at all, only anger-management counseling and the letter of apology. In that case, he concedes there was no adverse action. Even then, however, plaintiff believes he was entitled to a hearing before the Board permanently revoked his hospital privileges.

Plaintiff next claims that, under the Hospital Licensing Act in Illinois, the suspension of his privileges, whether the Committee's 30-day suspension or the Board's permanent suspension, may not be imposed without a hearing or documentation of an immediate danger. See 210 ILL. COMP. STAT. 85/10.4(b)(2)(C)(i). Further, he claims that, under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act, a suspension of clinical privileges for more than 14 days may not be imposed without a finding of imminent danger to the health of an individual. See 42 U.S.C. § 11112(c)(2).

Plaintiff believes that defendant's actions are causing him irreparable personal and professional harm, including his ability to practice medicine in Marion County, Illinois, and that he has no adequate remedy at law. He seeks a preliminary injunction*fn3 (1) enjoining defendant from enforcing the revocation of plaintiff's hospital privileges at St. Mary's, (2) ordering defendant to provide him with written notice of the adverse action and a hearing before a physician's committee-if the Committee recommended the 30-day suspension-and (3) enjoining defendant from reporting any revocation of plaintiff's hospital privileges to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Plaintiff also seeks a permanent injunction barring defendant from enforcing the revocation of plaintiff's hospital privileges and from reporting the revocation to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

Plaintiff filed this action in the Circuit Court of Marion County, Illinois, No. 2012-MR-106 (Doc. 2, Ex. A). The circuit court scheduled a hearing on plaintiff's petition for a preliminary injunction, but defendant removed ...


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