SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — The Minnesota Supreme Court has sided with doctors who are trying to sue South Dakota-based Avera Health System over new bylaws at the hospital in the Minnesota city of Marshall.
Justices in a recent 5-2 decision reversed two lower court rulings, saying the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center's bylaws constitute a contract between medical staff and administrators and that doctors have legal standing to sue over the rules. The ruling allows the case to continue in lower courts.
"It's a clear victory for physicians and medical staffs," doctors' attorney Kathy Kimmel told the Argus Leader newspaper (http://argusne.ws/17cQPUW ).
Medical staff members sued in 2012, saying new bylaws allowed hospital administrators to appoint members to the medical staff without staff approval, interfered with medical staff elections and stripped the staff of its ability to weigh in on matters affecting patient care.
Avera attorney David Crosby said the new bylaws were imposed to address dysfunction between medical staff and administrators.
"It was leading to an intolerable situation," he said.
Kimmel said she hopes administrators and the medical staff can find a way to work together.
"If it's a contract, you can't just unilaterally violate it without consequence," she said.
Crosby said Avera is still on firm ground.
"The issue goes back to district court now," he said. "Nothing's different today than what it was yesterday. No court has found that Avera did anything wrong."
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com