Duquesne Law Review


The disruptive physician is, by definition, contentious, threatening, insulting and frequently litigious. Nonetheless, he or she may also be a clinically competent medical practitioner. In an earlier time, hospitals accepted or at least tolerated such disruptive behavior for a variety of reasons. Today, accepting or tolerating such behavior is increasingly difficult in view of the continuing expansion of the hospital's corporate liability to answer for nearly all activity occurring within its walls. This article outlines the types of disruptive physician behavior that courts have found to provide a reasonable basis for responsive institutional action. In this regard, the authors stress the importance of artfully drafted medical staff bylaws and the recognition of disruptive behavior as a serious violation of those bylaws. While recognizing that the physician's due process rights must be respected, the writers suggest that hospital management must be able to take appropriate and swift administrative action when confronted with disruptive behavior. They conclude that a harmonious environment with strong, intelligent and effective leadership, operated under sound and flexible bylaws is necessary to enable a hospital to comply with its legal mandate to provide consistent, high quality care.

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