American Medical Association Joins Minnesota Medical Staff in Its Fight for Autonomy

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The American Medical Association (AMA) and several other physician organizations announced support of a court appeal by physicians at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center in Minnesota. The medical staff at Avera alleged the hospital’s governing board amended the medical staff’s bylaws and took away the medical staff’s right to self-govern. On February 6, 2013, the AMA, the Minnesota Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the hospital’s medical staff.

Click here to read the press release from the AMA announcing its support of the medical staff at Avera.

Background on the Case at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.

In January 2012, the Avera medical staff filed a lawsuit alleging the new bylaws created by the hospital’s governing board left the physicians without “nearly all rights and responsibilities” and gave Avera’s governing board controlling power in processes that required medical staff direction. On September 26, 2012, a Minnesota District Court judge issued a final order on a lawsuit refusing to recognize the medical staff’s lawsuit and refusing to recognize the bylaws as a contract.

To read more on the final order by the judge in the Minnesota District Court, click here.

AMA and Other Physician Organizations in Favor of Self-Governance by a Medical Staff.

The brief supports reestablishing the independence of the hospital’s medical staff to ensure their right and responsibility to uphold the quality of patient care, without interference by the hospital’s governing board. The AMA president said the judge’s ruling gave unchecked power to Avera’s governing board over the medical staff. The brief urges the state’s court of appeals to revise this ruling and allow the medical staff to present its case for self-governance. The AMA believes giving the medical staff the right to self-govern will restore balance between patient care and corporate interests at the hospital.

Click here to read the friend-of-the-court brief file by the AMA.

My Input on a Self-Governing Medical Staff.

By law the medical staff in a hospital is supposed to be self-governing. The AMA, along with other medical associations, created a minimum standard to govern hospitals and to lay out what health care professionals need to do to improve the quality of care in the hospitals. Self-governing includes allowing the medical staff to discipline its own members when necessary, conduct peer reviews, and take action when they see hospital issues.

To watch a video explaining medical staff self-governance in more detail, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals.

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What are your thoughts on medical staff self-governance? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Mills, Robert. “AMA and Other Support Physician Fight for Autonomy.” American Medical Association. (February 15, 2013). From:

Medical Staff of Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center on Its Own Behalf and in Its Representative Capacity for Its Members v. Avera Marshall d/b/a Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. Case No. A12-2117. State of Minnesota Court of Appeals. February 6, 2013. From:

Gau, Deb. “Judge Issues Final Order in Avera Lawsuit.” Marshall Independent. (September 26, 2012). From:

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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