Arkansas physicians stand up for North Arkansas Regional Medical Center-affiliated colleague who had privileges rescinded at hospital

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Physicians at a seperate private practice are standing behind their Harrison-based North Arkansas Regional Medical Center-affiliated colleague who the physicians claim lost his privileges at NARMC because was also employed by a competing hospital, KY3 reports.

Here are five things to know about the situation.

1. NARMC revoked Robert Causey's, MD, privileges at the hospital. Officials said they reached the decision to revoke Dr. Causey's privileges based off of patient care concerns, not competitive or economic concerns, according to the report.

2. Dr. Causey filed a lawsuit against NARMC in January and included a document from the hospital's credentials committee, which reportedly stated the committee found three cases in which Dr. Causey failed to provide adequate care to patients. The lawsuit also reportedly included peer review documents, according to the report.

3. NARMC recently filed an answer and counterclaim against Dr. Causey, alleging he violated the law by revealing the peer review documents in his lawsuit and by sharing the contents of the documents with his partners. Hospital officials also claimed the institution is not required by law to conduct a hearing before suspending an employee, the report states.

4. However, several physicians who work with Dr. Causey at Harrison-based Crossroads Medical Clinic are standing by him. Victor Chu, MD, claims he was explicitly told in a letter from NARMC officials that physicians who choose to be employed by competitors are "in conflict" with the hospital.

"I have a letter from the board that states specifically that we are in competition with them: The family medicine physicians who choose to be employed by competing facilities outside of our market by nature of the employment relationship place themselves in conflict with the hospital's mission," Dr. Chu told KY3.

5. A public forum for community members to voice their concerns about the issue is expected to be held Feb. 27.

6. NARMC said in a statement to Becker's Hospital Review Feb. 26, "The board of North Arkansas Regional Medical Center and its administration stand firmly behind the integrity of the peer review process. In the case of Dr. Causey, the process has been followed as prescribed by law and the by-laws of NARMC medical staff. Moreover, the peer review process is not yet complete since Dr. Causey has requested a hearing of the credentials committee action and recommendation. For this reason, it is inappropriate for Dr. Causey, or anyone within NARMC, to discuss the peer review process. In fact, NARMC has filed a counterclaim due to the breach of the confidentiality agreement signed by Dr. Causey pertaining to all details connected to the peer review process."

"As stated in the NARMC answer and counterclaim, the peer review process has nothing to do with Dr. Causey's employment status rather it focuses on patient care issues. Any argument to the contrary by Dr. Causey or his supporters is a distraction from the true issue in this matter — patient care. It is entirely inappropriate and unlawful for Dr. Causey or his proxies to be making public statements about details of the peer review, particularly during the pendency of the process. The bottom line for NARMC is that the peer review process is aimed at one goal — to do what is in the best interest of providing safe and quality care to our patients."

Editor's note: This article was updated at 10:10 a.m. Feb. 27 to include a statement from North Arkansas Regional Medical Center.

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