Phoebe plans changes in bylaws

ALBANY, Ga. — At an informational session Tuesday, the professional affairs committee for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital went over what officials hope will become the hospital’s new set of medical staff bylaws.

The document, which is more than 100 pages long, is still in the planning stages. At Tuesday’s meeting, attorneys went over some of the changes that have been proposed to the existing set of bylaws, which are nearly five years old.

“Last year, the staff made a proposal that began discussion between the staff and the hospital board,” said Phoebe general counsel Tommy Chambless, when giving background on the bylaw drafting process. “We hope that this document will become the bylaws of the hospital (medical) staff.”

The hospital was also waiting for the Joint Commission to release its standard on medical staff bylaws to be sure Phoebe was in compliance, attorney Dawn Benson said.

Benson went over some of the changes proposed for the new set, which outlines committee responsibility, the conflict resolution process and the fair hearing process, the section that underwent the most comprehensive changes, she said.

The new bylaws are expected to give a methodology for staff to go directly to the board if they have issues with the bylaws, and they also mandate the vice president of the medical staff to attend the hospital’s monthly board meetings to keep the staff informed on its business.

They also allow for medical staff to be involved in the hiring process of a chief medical officer, and, in the fair hearing piece, outline a burden-of-proof system when it comes to taking privileges away from or disciplining a physician for disruptive behavior.

“It’s to ensure that if it reaches a point that it compromises patient care that there will be a credential process involved,” Benson said of the fair hearing system. “Ultimately, the hospital board is responsible for final approval, but this allows us to get there in a more streamlined fashion.”

Per the medical staff’s request, the proposed set also does away with the rule that requires physicians to be on staff at the hospital for two years before serving on a committee.

“They didn’t want to exclude someone who would be a good addition to committees,” Benson said. “It is a matter of allowing new physicians in if they are allowed to serve (on staff).”

Officials also say the new bylaws will bring everything together in one document within a unified format, which is not how the current set is organized.

Officials anticipate some minor changes to the current draft in the coming weeks. The medical staff will be given the opportunity to review the bylaws before they go to the full board for a formal vote, which could take place in November or December.