The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case to decide this issue (Fahlen v. Sutter Central Valley Hospitals, 208 Cal. App. 4th 557 (2012)). The case pits the sometimes adverse interests of physicians against the interests of hospitals when employment and practice privilege issues collide. Physicians who allege their privileges have been terminated in retaliation for blowing the whistle do not want to wait to file a whistleblower case until all administrative and judicial remedies concerning their clinical privileges are exhausted. On the flip side, hospitals do not want to fight physicians on two fronts: in court and in the hospital’s own peer review process with the potential for judicial review.
The hospital in the case, Sutter Central Valley Hospitals, declined to renew the physician’s privileges after peer review proceedings, and that determination was upheld by the hospital’s board. While the physician, Dr. Fahlen, might have been able to challenge that decision in court, he chose to file a lawsuit against the hospital with a number of claims, including claims under California’s whistleblower protection law (Cal. Health & Safety Code Section 1278.5, subd. (a)). Dr. Fahlen claims that he lost his privileges as retaliation for blowing the whistle on dangerous nurses.
Continue Reading Can a Physician File a Whistleblower Claim Before Exhausting Administrative Remedies?