Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Montana Court Affirms Injunction Against Hospital in Physician's Suit

The Montana Supreme Court affirmed a preliminary injunction against St. James Healthcare in a suit raised by Dr. Jesse Cole. Cole v. St. James, DA 07-0410. Cole, a member of the St. James medical staff, applied for reappointment in 2006. Without notice, the board of directors changed Cole's status from active to consulting. Cole then refused to participate in a subsequent investigation of alleged problematic relationships with patients and staff members. Cole contended that he was entitled to peer review under the medical staff bylaws prior to his change in status. The board later denied his request for reappointment.

Cole sued St. James for breach of contract and sought an injunction which would stop St. James from pursuing further action against him and reporting his status change to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) while the breach case was pending in the trial court.

The Montana Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court to grant the injunction and restore Cole's staff privileges. The court reasoned that the purpose of an injunction is to prevent irreparable harm pending judgement in a suit. By reporting Cole's change of status to the NPDB and revoking his privileges without peer review, the court ruled that Cole's reputation would suffer the consequences of the breach of contract even if the trial court were to find St. James at fault.

The Montana Supreme Court's opinion can be found here:

Source: BNA

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