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Recent Legal Developments in Healthcare Hiring

December 17, 2015


On top of the challenges of recruiting, selecting and developing talent to perform in an ever changing landscape, healthcare organizations must face the increasing legal risks associated with managing a workforce. A few interesting cases and developments:

1. Physician Hostile Work Environment Claim Costs Hospital $1.6 Million.

Hospitals continue to add more physicians to the payroll. They need to consider the
employment law implications. One is the size of damage awards for discrimination suits. This should make HR think twice. Do physicians go through standard harassment training? Are they properly disciplined? Are these employment law/HR matters or medical staff issues? A summary of a recent case where a female neurosurgeon claimed hostile work environment and was awarded $1.6 Million.

2. OFCCP Audits

Many hospitals always assumed they were immune from OFCCP jurisdiction because they aren’t “federal contractors” as that term is generally defined. The OFCCP disagreed and was happy to litigate the issue. Congress tried to resolve the issue, but it’s not clear that they have. See our summary: http://info.selectinternational.com/blog/bid/122041/Healthcare-Hiring-and-OFCCP-Jurisdiction-Congress-to-the-Rescue. Would your current selection process survive OFCCP scrutiny?

3. Physician Exclusivity Arrangements are OK – but discrimination is not.

Some hospitals have explored using “exclusivity” arrangements – i.e., closing the medical staff for a particular service to anyone not part of a specific group under contract. If done properly it can make good business sense and is legal, but be careful. This summary addresses a case where closing the cardiology department to only employed physicians was OK, but allegations by plaintiff physicians that it was merely a pretext for racial discrimination were allowed to move forward. See the AMA’s summary: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/legal-topics/litigation-center/case-summaries-topic/medical-staff.page

Talking about this stuff always makes everyone nervous, so let’s end on a lighter note:

While respecting the serious purpose of medical records and recognizing that real patients are the subjects of the documentation, here are some supposedly real medical record entries that we wanted to share with you:

  • Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
  • The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as stockbroker instead.
  • The patient’s bladder was then emptied and sent to the postoperative recovery room in stable condition.
  • When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.
  • She is numb from her toes down.

Finally, try to imagine the look on the physicians’ faces when they read these entries regarding consultations for fertility services:

  • Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
  • She can’t get pregnant with her husband, so I thought you might want to work her up.

Now we should be in a good mood when we read about the upcoming Supreme Court arguments about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act!

Interested in learning more about healthcare hiring? Check out our eBook, Healthcare Hiring Essentials!



Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.