The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed a 2009 ruling that Baptist Health in Little Rock can't deny staff privileges to physicians based on their ownership of or investment interest in a competing hospital.
Ark. Supreme Court rejects economic credentialing
The court rejected the six-hospital system’s argument that the case should have been eclipsed by a parallel federal antitrust lawsuit, brought likewise by physician investors in Arkansas Heart Hospital, Little Rock. A U.S. District Court judge dismissed that suit in 2008 and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to revive it.
The Arkansas high court also disagreed that the Pulaski County judge clearly erred in concluding that the system’s economic credentialing interfered with the physician-patient relationship.
"Baptist’s motive was to discourage competition by physicians who considered investing in specialty hospitals, and Baptist wanted to force patients to choose between it and the physician appellees," Associate Justice Ronald Sheffield wrote in the opinion.
The American Medical Association and the Arkansas Medical Society joined the case on behalf of the physicians.
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