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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 117401
Experience:  Licensed Attorney. Over 20 years experience in personal injury and law enforcement.
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Can a city hospital in NYC not give privileges to someone with

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Can a city hospital in NYC not give privileges to someone with a clean malpractice record, overwhelmingly positive recommendations but one negative letter(from a previous adversary who was not even listed as a reference) For 6 months, the hospital has given me no reason for delay and has stated that one letter was negative.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

Unfortunately, the granting of privileges is not mandatory at any hospital and under NY law there is no law requiring any hospital (city, state or private) to grant privileges. If you have reason to believe that the negative letter contains known false information about you, then you have two different recourses.

First, you have a right to submit a written appeal to the director at the hospital who determines privilege status and explain the situation to the director and the committee and ask them to reconsider your application for status at the facility.

Second, if the negative letter contains known false information about you, then you have a right to file suit against the person who wrote the letter for defamation/slander/libel and seek damages against the person who wrote the letter.

Aside from these two actions, you cannot sue the hospital to force them to grant you privileges unless you can prove the sole reason for the denial was based on your age/race/sex/disability/national origin/religion. The hospital can only be legally liable for the decision to not grant privileges for unlawful discrimination.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If the application is denied, the denial will then need to be reported to subsequent hospitals and more likely will then become the basis for denial from other hospitals. How can you get the hospital to define the reason for delaying or denying privileges so that an otherwise good neurosurgeon is not labeled and impeded in hospital after hospital? Citing confidentiality doesnt preclude a hospital for giving an explanation (its been nearly six months and no response). Some references listed state that they have not even been called (lack of due diligence). A vendetta can keep me from gaining privileges?

Thank you for your response.

I understand that the denial can impact other privilege applications from other hospitals, which is why I raised the potential defamation/slander/libel issue.

The NY law does not mandate they give any reason as there is no law stating that they have to have good cause or any cause at all for denying privileges. The only legal grounds a court will get involved in would be based on defamation or based on the unlawfully discriminatory reasons I mentioned above Thus, all you can do is ask the hospital in writing to respond with their grounds. Confidentiality is not a reason not to tell you their reasons, they can, however, have an internal policy to not disclose reasons for denials. Furthermore, as there are no laws governing this, how they conduct their reviews of references is up to the hospital I am afraid.

Sadly, yes, just like a vendetta can keep you from getting a job, so can one stop you from getting privileges. However, if that vendetta is based on known false statements, then this is where the suit for defamation/libel comes in to seek your damages, which in this case can be substantial based on the significant harm this can do to your career.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If the hospital does not share the reason and does not show you the file , how can you respond or alleviate there concern? How do you know that others before you have not been granted privileges in a similar situation? What if due diligence was not conducted and can be proven? How do you know, in fact, that the hospital is not discriminating?

Thank you for your response.

This is like every other employment application, many times applicants never know why they were denied a job. Similarly, as there is no law mandating disclosure here or even that they had to conduct any further investigation before you are denied or accepted, you are in a very bad situation with very limited recourse.

Just like an employer, it is very difficult to prove unlawful discrimination, which is evident when you look at the number of discrimination complaints made in employment law compared to the number of claims that are successful in favor of the plaintiff, which is about 5% +/-. The only way you will know if there is unlawful discrimination is if you know others denied and it shows a pattern based on some particular protected status or if someone gives you information regarding discriminatory reasons for your denial.

This is why I said, write your appeal, since you have evidently a good idea of who wrote a negative letter and thus you know how to attack that and argue it is full of false and defamatory statements. You thus need to just attack the situation based on what you believe the problem is between the two of you and make your case as best you can.

If you sue for defamation, then you can subpoena the letter from the hospital and they must turn it over and then you know what it states.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

BTW, for seven years of practice, I have never been denied privilges and for the first time with a clean record I am being delayed and potentially denied. Can the hospital share the letter or its content with me without a lawsuit? Even if you sue the individual for defamation , is the hospital obligated under NY state to release the letter if they are subpoened or can they cite confidentiality?

Thank you for your response.

I can understand your frustration and also agree with you that this is not fair, but I have to give you the legal side of this and not the personal feelings side of this as I do not want you going off based on personal feelings.

The hospital is not prohibited by law from sharing the letter if they choose, but again, if they refuse then a lawsuit is the only way to force disclosure.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Does the NY hospital risk being sued by the individual who wrote the defamatory letter if the hospital shows me the letter since the individual asked to keep it confidential and anonymous?

Thank you for that question.

As they have no legal duty to keep it confidential, they could not be held liable to the writer for disclosing it either. So he could not sue them for disclosing the letter, because in order to sue for that he has to prove they had some legally imposed or contractual duty to keep it confidential.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Is there a potential criminal component when someone writes a false and slanderous letter to the credentialing committee? Does it matter if the slanderous letter is from someone associated with a federally funded university or a private practice associated with federal programs i.e Medicare/Medicaid

Thank you for your follow up.

I am afraid that defamation is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. This is something that is purely addressed in the civil court and the fact that federal programs are involved or not is not considered, it is simply a defamation claim that is causing you harm.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If the individuals work for a university, are they not accountable to the university or to professional organiaztions (medical board, specialty board, hospital ethics committee) when they slander?

Thank you for your response. The law states that this is not a criminal matter, so he boards and the university or ethics committed do not get involved, you file suit in civil court against them and you seek monetary damages from the person who filed the false statements.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What if the nature of the slander is a form of discrimination? Aren't universities obligated to abide by federal civil rights laws?

Thank you for your response.

When you state discrimination, in order for it to be actionable discrimination, you have to prove it is based only on your age/race/sex/disability/national origin and for no other reason. If the comments against you were based only on your age/race/sex/disability/national origin, then you can file a complaint not just against the hospital for denying you based on those grounds, but against the individual with the university. To this point you have not given any information that would lead me to believe that this is based only on your age/race/sex/disability/national origin (which was actually mentioned above).

Discrimination occurs all of the time and all discrimination is not illegal, it is only discrimination based only on your age/race/sex/disability/national origin that is illegal and can be sued over.

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