In Kandel v. The Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Kandel sought an injunction against the Medical Center for reporting Dr. Kandel to the National Practitioner Data Bank after surrendering his medical staff privileges while being under an investigation. The Nebraska Trial Court granted a Motion for Summary Judgment by the hospital and the Nebraska Appeals Court dismissed Dr. Kandel’s Appeal.
According to the facts of the Opinion, Dr. Kandel refused to allow another physician at the Medical Center to use a laser for a surgical procedure because Dr. Kandel thought such use would delay the availability of the laser for his own procedure. Following a Complaint to the Medical Executive Committee, an investigation was commenced.
The facts make it appear that the resignation was an attempt to beat the investigation to the finish line. The MEC met on June 12th to discuss the matter and decided to initiate an investigation. The MEC advised Dr. Kandel by letter dated June 21st that such investigation had been launched. During the interim, on June 19th, Dr. Kandel submitted a letter to indicate he was accepting a new position and would not renew his medical staff membership clinical privileges. In a response to a question by the Medical Center credentialing specialists, Dr. Kandel confirmed his resignation. The letters were not included in the opinions of the issue of not renewing versus resigning and must be taken from the facts of the Complaint.
The Medical Center reported Dr. Kandel to the National Practitioners Data Bank for resigning during the investigation, and the perspective new employer rescinded the employment offer. Dr. Kandel then filed the Complaint and sought the Preliminary Injunction.
The medical staff credentials policy contained a provision granting immunity to the medical staff and agreeing that the medical staff appeals process was the sole remedy available to physicians. The District Court determined that the Medical Center credentials policy and medical staff bylaws constituted a contract, and that Dr. Kandel was bound by the terms of that contract.
The inclusion of the immunity provisions in the bylaws is important, because the Healthcare Quality Immunity Act provides only immunity from damages, not from injunctive relief.
As an aside, please note that Dr. Kandel argued that he had not surrendered his medical staff membership and clinical privileges, but instead he had “chosen not to retain them”. The Court dismissed this as a “difference without distinction”, all in one sentence.