Calif. physician's summary suspension overturned

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 23, 2004

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The California Medical Assn. says a hospital had no right to summarily suspend a physician who was on a voluntary leave of absence and wasn't admitting or treating patients at the hospital.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of internist Penny Pancoast, MD, the CMA argues that summary suspension is reserved for times when a physician poses an "imminent danger" to the health and safety of identifiable patients and that doctors have a right to a fair peer review hearing.

"Because of the draconian ramifications, 'summary suspensions' should not be utilized routinely to deal with concerns arising from a physician's medical practice or behavior," the CMA said in its brief. "Normal peer review channels with pre-suspension hearing procedures are tailored to handle these cases appropriately and expeditiously."

The trial court sided with Dr. Pancoast and ordered that Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego restore her privileges. The hospital has asked the California Court of Appeal Fourth Appellate District Division One to overturn that decision.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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