The California Healthcare Association has sided with Community Memorial Hospital of San Buenaventura in Ventura, Calif., in an increasingly bitter dispute between the 222-bed hospital and its medical staff. At issue for the hospital association is how much independence a medical board has from its hospital and the board's role in governance. The doctors in April filed a civil lawsuit against Community Memorial, accusing it of punishing them for being competitors. They alleged that the hospital and the hospital's board breached fiduciary duty, used unfair business practices, interfered in medical staff governance and prevented medical staff from carrying out quality oversight duties. The hospital said it has acted in accordance with conflict-of-interest policies developed to stop physicians from using insider information to compete with the hospital. The hospital also contends that the medical staff is not an organization independent from the hospital and therefore lacks standing to sue. If the California Medical Association files a brief in support of the doctors, the CHA also will file to support the hospital, CHA President Duane Dauner said. The case raises "broad questions . . . that could set precedent in California law as it applies to all hospitals," Dauner said. -- by Mark Taylor
Calif. hospital association joins fray over medical staff suit
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