Alliance for Patient Safety

                            All that is necessary for the triumph of evil...
                                                                ... is for good men to do nothing.

                                                                                                   Edmund Burke

Retaliation Against Physicians - Clifford J. Merlo, M.D.

Merlo v. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
In this case, Dr. Merlo had his privileges terminated after he was fired from a radiology group with which the hospital alleged an exclusive arrangement for the provision of radiology services. On August 25, 1995, CMA filed an amicus curiae brief with the Court of Appeal (2nd Dist.) in order to apprise the court of the serious implications of an exclusive contracting decision and to present CMA policy on department closures to the court. The brief argued that in order for all issues implicated by an exclusive contracting decision to be revealed and thoroughly addressed, it is necessary for the hospital to engage in some form of notice-and-comment process, whereby all persons who may be affected by the decision are notified of the proposal and are provided the opportunity to raise concerns and suggestions.

Outcome: On September 20, 1996, the Court of Appeal (2nd Dist.) ruled in an unpublished opinion that Dr. Merlo’s medical staff privileges were improperly terminated (in an exclusive contract dispute) and awarded economic damages only against the hospital. In accordance with CMA’s brief, the Court found that the Department was properly closed only after four medical staff and hospital committees had considered the issue and had recommended closure based on twelve reasons related to quality of care. In no way did the court suggest that closure of a medical staff department is a mere business detail to be decided exclusively by the hospital.