The medical staff of 222-bed Community Memorial Hospital of San Buenaventura, Ventura, Calif., is a legal entity and may sue the hospital's board over a new code of conduct and control of a $250,000 bank account, a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled in a case that has drawn national attention. Judge Henry Walsh dismissed the remaining claims made in the physicians' April lawsuit but gave doctors until Aug. 15 to refile the claims as individuals. The physicians contend the code of conduct and a new conflict-of-interest policy threaten the medical staff's independence and ability to police quality. The policy requires doctors to disclose ventures competing with the hospital and prohibits doctors with competing ventures from serving on hospital committees. In addition, the doctors and hospital are fighting over control of $250,000 raised through physician application fees. The medical staff's lawyer, Charles Bond of Bond Curtis, Berkeley, Calif., said the decision "indicates that the medical staff has standing to ask for judicial scrutiny if the hospital board or administration engages in excesses." Hospital attorney Lowell Brown of the Los Angeles office of Foley & Lardner said, "The question remains: Who gets to run the hospital -- the medical staff or the board?" -- by Mark Taylor
Judge: Medical staff has standing to sue hospital
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