Erlanger board removes physician from leadership roles over alleged 'breach in confidence'

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority board of trustees, which governs Erlanger Health System, has removed Chris Young, MD, from his trustee role as well as his role as chief of staff at Erlanger, the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based health system confirmed to Becker's

The board voted Oct. 28 to remove Dr. Young from those roles over allegations that he violated his fiduciary duty by sharing unspecified confidential information, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The vote was 6-3.

On the day of the vote, Board Chair Linda Moss Mines said, "Over the past several weeks, members of the board were made aware of certain allegations of a breach in confidence by the chief of the medical staff and trustee, Dr. Chris Young," the newspaper reported.

"Under guidance of counsel, discussions were had with the individuals making the allegations and included discussions with Dr. Young directly," Ms. Mines added. "Dr. Young was further given the opportunity to respond to the allegations more formally. The individuals making the allegations were credible and appear to have no reason to misrepresent the facts and the subject matter disclosed by Dr. Young."

Dr. Young is an anesthesiologist with ACE Anesthesia in Chattanooga. He is contracted to provide anesthesia services to Erlanger and became chief of staff and a board member in January. He also previously served as vice chief of staff at Erlanger and is a delegate for the American Medical Association. Dr. Young will continue to practice medicine at Erlanger. 

Erlanger Vice Chief of Staff Chris Poole, MD, who served as secretary of the Erlanger medical staff prior to the vice chief role, is replacing Dr. Young in his chief of staff and trustee roles. Jim Bolton, MD, served as chief of staff before Dr. Young.

The Times Free Press reported that Ms. Mines did not elaborate on the allegations but cited the medical staff bylaws, which allow the board to remove officers "whenever the activities, professional conduct, physical or mental health status or leadership abilities are believed to be below the standards established by the medical staff, or to be disruptive to the operations of the hospital."

In an emailed statement to the Times Free Press, Dr. Young expressed concern about the board's decision.

"I have served the medical staff as an elected leader through some of the hospital's most trying times to the best of my abilities and worked hard to find a sustainable path for Erlanger in the future," he said, according to the report. "I believe I have always acted in the best interest of Erlanger as chief of staff. It is especially noteworthy that not a single Erlanger trustee who is also a physician voted in favor of this action.

"I find the process of the board action disturbing in that I was never told the specific allegation against me nor given the opportunity to address the board in person."

The medical executive committee, which is responsible for decisions related to medical staff policies and procedures at Erlanger, told the Times Free Press it is evaluating the situation and expects to obtain legal counsel to help the committee work through it.

"At this moment the medical staff is confused by the process and obviously dismayed with the board's decision," the committee's statement to the newspaper said. "The [medical executive committee] is very supportive and has the utmost confidence in the job Dr. Chris Young has done as chief of staff."

In a statement from Erlanger shared with Becker's on Nov. 1, health system officials said the board "takes no action without due consideration of one of its most valuable partnerships — the medical staff. In that light, it is the board's hope that members of the medical staff and anyone else with questions will understand and appreciate that the board would not have taken action were it not obligated by the facts to ensure that the board continues to meet its fiduciary duties to Erlanger."

Access the report here

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