The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association have been dropped from a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed in May 2002 claiming the National Resident Matching Program is unfair to student-physicians.
In a ruling today, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman in Washington also dismissed the case against four other defendants: the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, the American Board of Medical Specialties, Yeshiva University and Washington University Medical Center.
The case will move forward against the remaining defendants, including 27 hospitals, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the National Resident Matching Program.
Sherman Marek, a Chicago attorney who represents the plaintiffs, described the dismissed parties as "peripheral players" in a case that could dramatically change the way future doctors are trained in America.
"They had argued that the case doesn't have any merit," Marek said. "After this decision, it clearly does have merit. In our view this refutes everything that the defendants have been saying--on Capitol Hill and in the press--about the frivolousness of this case."
Key federal lawmakers, including Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), are considering legislation that would effectively short-circuit the lawsuit by providing a retroactive antitrust exemption for teaching hospitals.
The lawsuit alleges that teaching hospitals engage in collusion to force residents to work long hours at low pay without any ability to negotiate.
Marek said he is considering filing an amended complaint seeking to reinstate the dismissed parties as defendants.