The trial court in Baptist Health vs. Murphy has issued a decision permanently enjoining Baptist Health from enforcing its economic credentialing policy, and finding that Baptist Health tortuously interfered with the plaintiff physician’s contracts and engaged in deceptive trade practices under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Law.
Attached below is a comment on the article by Michael Callahan and a link to the opinion. Watch for the teleconference on the case to be presented by the American Health Lawyers Association and moderated by Mike Callahan.
There should be some very interesting content in this presentation, because the Arkansas trial court made some very provocative comments regarding the exceptional protection to the afforded physician/patient relationships, the anti-competitive and anti-public policy aspects of economic credentialing, the advantages of specialty hospitals and the role of marriage in this issue. You will have to read the opinion to discover the impact of marriage in this case.
"In case you have not already seen this decision/order that was entered last Friday, attached is part of the long litigation saga in the ongoing Baptist v. Murphy litigation in Arkansas. I would strongly suggest that you all read this case because it is far ranging and addresses restraint of trade, public policy, tax exemption, fraud and deceptive business practices and even the sanctity of marriage as grounds to support the imposition of a permanent injunction to enjoin the implementation of an "economic credentialing policy" that would have required applicants and current medical staff members and any family member to divest themselves of their economic interest in a competing heart hospital. I assume you have all read the 2006 Arkansas Supreme Court decision which the trial court has based its order after a 10 day trial.
At a minimum, it is instructive as a road map for all hospitals to consider when contemplating a similar policy. There are many lessons learned and, at least in my opinion, mistakes the hospital made when developing the policy that others would have or will avoid. Also, had this dispute occurred in a different market where there were more hospital providers and managed care plans that would have given excluded providers other hospital options, I think the result could have been different. In addition, there are some unique public policy holdings in Arkansas along with other legal theories which exist in many other states which had no application here that also might have led to a different result.
The person who interviewed me did not know if an appeal was being contemplated or not. I have not compared this order to the 2006 Supreme Court decision to know whether the two are consistent or not. If so, it would seem that further appeals may be futile although that does not seem to have served as an obstacle in this ongoing dispute. Anyway, hope all is well with everyone."
MICHAEL R. CALLAHAN