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6 Ways to Quash Privileging Squabbles Among Clinical Staff

News  |  By Credentialing Resource Center  
   June 20, 2017

The acrimony that can arise from disputes among physicians can leave scars on medical teams. Make a plan to avoid conflict when you can, and to resolve it when you can't.

This article was originally published on Credentialing Resource Center Daily, June 19, 2017.

The number of privileging disputes occurring in hospitals is growing rapidly. It’s easy to understand why if you examine how medicine has evolved.

In the “good old days,” physicians of all specialties had a defined area of turf on the playing field and specialties didn’t cross those boundaries.

Now things are different.

The acrimony that can arise from such disputes often leaves scars and wounds on medical staffs that may not be prepared to deal with the change and conflict associated with this challenge.

The following steps will help your medical staff as it deals with challenges to conventional privileging:

  1. Assign responsibility for dispute resolution to a small, very experienced committee. Ideally, the credentials committee or perhaps a medical staff standards committee must be charged with the responsibility of "owning" resolution of all privilege disputes.
  2. Research, research, research any and all matters or disputes concerning the granting of clinical privileges. Assign a staff person to research and prepare a full background paper concerning the issue at hand. This step is absolutely critical to effective dispute resolution due to the fact that the committee needs unbiased, objective information concerning the issue in order to dialogue effectively with parties to the dispute.
  3. Involve the disputing parties. At the conclusion of the research period, a member of the credentials committee should facilitate a discussion between or among the involved parties in an attempt to solicit a consensus recommendation concerning the amount of education, training and experience necessary for the safe and effective performance of the procedure in question.

If the involved parties decline the invitation to meet, then each party should be requested to advise the credentials committee, based upon their own knowledge and with reference to the research concerning the amount of education, training, and experience they believe is necessary to perform the procedure safely and effectively.

A firm time period should be identified for receipt of their recommendation.

  1. Have the credentials committee review recommendations. If a consensus was reached, the job of the credentials committee is to test the consensus recommendation against the following criteria:
    • If a physician with this amount of education, training, and experience were granted privileges at this facility, would we be comfortable referring a friend to the practitioner?

      If the answer to this question is yes, the credentials committee should proceed to recommend adoption of the rule.

      If the answer is no, the credentials committee's job is to craft a rule, based upon review of the research and after consideration of the various recommendations that will, in their opinion, serve to ensure safe and effective provision of patient care.
    • It may be necessary to touch base once again with the disputing parties and request that they document their objections to a proposed rule in formal minority reports that can be considered at a later point in the process.
  2. Consider the proposed rule by the medical executive committee with subsequent recommendation (if controversial) to the board of directors. It is absolutely vital at this point that the policies and procedures used by the credentials and executive committees preclude procrastination, end runs, serious consideration of "threats," or departmental filibusters.

    If such activities are tolerated, it is likely that the dispute will escalate into a battle, if not a war.
  3. Codify each of the above steps into a formal policy. This procedure should be used during the development of standards for granting and regranting of clinical privileges.

Such a policy should be recommended by the credentials committee, executive committee, and approved by the board. Once approved by the board, it should be followed absolutely in the resolution of any dispute concerning the granting of clinical privileges.


The Credentialing Resource Center (CRC) is the premier destination for credentialing, privileging, and peer review expertise. Membership provides MSPs, quality professionals, and medical staff leaders with a collection of continuously updated tools, best practice strategies, and compliance tips developed by industry experts. With three membership tiers, you can customize your access level depending on your education and training needs. Learn more

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