January 24, 2014

Hospital says doctor's a bully. But does that mean he should lose his privileges?

Daily Briefing

A doctor in Shelby, Mont., is appearing in court Friday to fight a hospital's decision to revoke his privileges after receiving multiple complaints that the physician bullied staff members.

Accusations of staff bullying

The Marias Medical Center board revoked Robert Clary's hospital privileges on Jan. 15, according to court documents that Clary filed on Jan. 16 in Montana District Court. In his lawsuit, Clary alleges that the hospital violated its bylaws regarding an investigation into Clary's bullying and that he was not given an opportunity to appeal the decision or request a hearing.

Examples of Clary's bullying are detailed in the court documents. They include a vulgarity-laced disruption in an OR during which Clary refused to wait 30 minutes to perform an elective cesarean section while a dental surgery was being finished. As a result, all dental surgeries had to be rescheduled for two weeks later.

The 'dangers' of working in health care: Abuse, bullying

Nine days after the OR incident, Clary allegedly berated a staffer helping him with electronic health records, threatening to kill her if she failed to fix the records. When the employee asked co-workers if they heard his statement, Clary responded: "I will just make your life more miserable than it is now." Later that day, Clary told a "training tech that the procedure was a 'cluster (expletive)' due to her abilities," according to court documents.

Most young doctors say they've been harassed

Overall, CEO Mark Cross says that the hospital's "Board of Directors reviewed some 20 witnesses' complaints against Dr. Clary in treatment of staff."

Additionally, Cross says Clary violated hospital confidentiality rules when he spoke on a local radio station about OR training procedures and claimed a lack of training contributed to a tragic situation with a patient. In response, Cross says that Clary maintains his right to raise issues with fellow members of the medical staff or administration, but does not believe his complaints should have been shared with the media.

Why Clary is fighting for his privileges

Clary asserts allegations of bullying and violation of hospital confidentiality rules are "either untrue or insufficient to justify the revocation if his privileges."

In his lawsuit, he is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting Marias Medical from revoking his hospital privileges (AP/Washington Times, 1/22; Murray, Great Falls Tribune, 1/22).

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