Medical Technology

Judge dismisses Cardiology Practice’s Lawsuit against SSM Health

A Missouri judge has thrown out the $50 million lawsuit filed by cardiologists from St. Louis Health and Vascular (SLHV) against SSM Health, an eight-hospital system that serves the St. Louis area.

After SSM Health notified them that they had entered into an exclusive agreement with another cardiology company, the SLHV cardiologists filed a lawsuit in April. This arrangement meant that SLHV cardiologists were unable to practice at all SSM Health hospitals.

“The current economic climate is financially unsustainable for us. This is a real risk to our practice,” said Harvey Serota, MD, founder and medical director of SLHV, as previously reported by Medscape Medical News.

The lawsuit requested the Court to enter a preliminary (and permanent) injunction requiring SSM Health to grant or reinstate their adult cardiology clinical privileges.

However, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Nellie Ribaudo ruled SSM Health had “substantially complied” with its bylaws and declined to issue an interim order.

The court confirmed that the decision of SSM Health’s bylaws to stop the clinical privileges of the SLHV plaintiffs as well as the privileges to practice for 16 other cardiologists not affiliated with the plaintiff SLHV was authorised by the health system.

These bylaws “expressly allow” the automatic revocation of clinical privileges due to an exclusive provider arrangement. They also specifically state that the affected staff physicians are not entitled to a hearing on staffing decisions.

Ribaudo therefore “ordered, adjudged and decreed” that the lawsuit be dismissed and that the costs be imposed on the plaintiffs.

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