The Mississippi State Appeals Court affirmed a summary judgment decision by a Mississippi State Court in the case of C. Jake Lambert, Jr. M.D. v. Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, Inc. and Baptist Memorial Health Services, Inc. Dr. Lambert was a medical staff member of Baptist Memorial Hospital (Hospital) and an employee of Baptist Memorial Health Services (Health Services). The Opinion does not recite the facts in full, but we assume Health Services is a controlled entity or a subsidiary of the hospital. Based upon numerous complaints, the Hospital undertook a review of Dr. Lambert’s practice, and the review stated that Dr. Lambert was unfit to practice medicine and should be enrolled in the Mississippi Professional Health Program (MPHP). The Hospital then suspended Dr. Lambert’s clinical privileges contingent upon his compliance with the treatment recommendations, and advised Dr. Lambert that he had the due process remedies available under the Fair Hearing Plan.
Based upon the suspension, Health Services terminated Dr. Lambert’s contract. There is no dispute that the employment contract allowed termination of employment based on suspension of hospital privileges.
Dr. Lambert did not utilize the Fair Hearing Plan and filed suit against both the Hospital and Health Services.
There is no mention of hospital immunity pursuant to the Health Care Quality Improvement Act in the Opinion. We only presume defense counsel first filed motions for summary judgment based upon the facts.
The Court concluded that summary judgment was appropriate on the breach of contract claim, simply because Dr. Lambert’s privileges had indeed been suspended by the Hospital.
The Court concluded that summary judgment was appropriate based on the defamation claim arising out of the fact that the Hospital reported the suspension to the National Practictioner’s Data Bank, because the report was accurate (there was a suspension) and the reasons for the suspension were based upon the reviewer’s report. Since Dr. Lambert made no effort to show that the reports themselves were false, summary judgment on the defamation claim is appropriate.