Most Texas court cases have held that hospital medical staff bylaws are binding on physicians and medical staff, but not on the hospital.
This means if a hospital fails to adhere to the bylaws (which are adopted by the medical staff and approved by the governing body), Texas courts likely won’t consider them to be a contract binding on hospitals – unless your medical staff takes additional steps.
To bolster an argument that bylaws are binding on physicians, medical staff, and a hospital, the Texas Medical Association Office of the General Counsel has crafted the following language that could improve the binding effect of your hospital’s bylaws.
Seek your own counsel’s advice on any proposed bylaw changes and on the probable effect of the suggested language below.
“In consideration of the mutual benefits derived from membership in an organized Medical Staff of this Healthcare Facility, and for other good and valuable considerations, the receipt and adequacy of which are hereby acknowledged, each applicant for membership agrees that, upon their appointment for Medical Staff membership, the applicant shall be bound by the terms and provisions of these Medical Staff Bylaws as they exist at the date of application and as they may be amended from time to time according to their terms. This health care facility and its medical staff agree, for the same considerations, to be bound by and be a party to these Medical Staff Bylaws.”
In addition, hospital medical staff bylaws often are amended, particularly after hospitals are consolidated. Any proposed amendments should be carefully reviewed as they provide an opportunity for hospitals to seek even more authority in setting medical policy and limiting medical staff and physician influence.
Remember that attorneys representing a hospital typically are not selected by a hospital’s medical staff, but instead are retained by hospital administration or board of trustees. Therefore, they represent the interests of the hospital, not the medical staff.
The American Medical Association and TMA recommend hospital medical staffs consult their own retained attorneys when considering medical staff bylaw amendments.
NOTICE: The Texas Medical Association provides this information with the express understanding that 1) no attorney-client relationship exists, 2) neither TMA nor its attorneys are engaged in providing legal advice and 3) that the information is of a general character. This is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. While every effort is made to ensure that content is complete, accurate and timely, TMA cannot guarantee the accuracy and totality of the information contained in this publication and assumes no legal responsibility for loss or damages resulting from the use of this content. You should not rely on this information when dealing with personal legal matters; rather legal advice from retained legal counsel should be sought.