Ark. surgeons keep privileges while economic credentialing case proceeds

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 6, 2006

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The Arkansas Supreme Court in February ruled that a group of cardiologists could continue to practice at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock while a lawsuit disputing the hospital's economic credentialing policy winds its way through the courts.

Six doctors sued Baptist Health in February 2004 to block a hospital policy that denies privileges to staff who have ownership in competing hospitals. The physicians are partners in Little Rock Cardiology Clinic and have partial ownership in Arkansas Heart Hospital, which competes with Baptist.

The high court's Feb. 2 decision upheld a lower court ruling from the Pulaski County Circuit Court. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah wrote that preventing the doctors from practicing disrupted "the physicians ability to provide proper healthcare to their patients, to the detriment of the doctor-patient relationship."

The court also affirmed the lower court's ruling that Baptist's policy violated Arkansas' Deceptive Trade Practices Act and that the doctors case can proceed to trial.

"To have a court come out and say that the doctor-patient relationship is paramount, is very powerful," said David Wroten, executive vice president of the Arkansas Medical Society. The ruling also sends a message that courts can review hospitals' credentialing systems if they violate state law, he said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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