Court overturns ruling on open hospital law overturned

by The Associated Press

West Virginia’s nonprofit and government-run hospitals cannot exclude the public and doctors from decision-making meetings, the state Supreme Court unanimously affirmed.

The ruling Thursday overturned a February 2006 Kanawha County Circuit Court decision.

The circuit court determined that meetings held by Charleston Area Medical Center’s medical staff executive committee were exempt from the Open Hospital Proceedings Act. The lower court ruled that only CAMC’s board of trustees meetings were subject to the law.

The medical staff executive committee is comprised of elected members from the hospital’s various departments. It has authority over medical staff functions and improving the performance of individuals with clinical privileges. The committee’s meetings have been closed the public and to members of CAMC’s medical staff who are not on the committee.

Thursday’s ruling marked the second time this week the Supreme Court dealt with a dispute between CAMC and Dr. R.E. Hamrick Jr. On Tuesday, the justices refused to hear CAMC’s appeal of a 2005 Kanawha County Circuit Court ruling that upheld Hamrick’s right to provide his own medical malpractice insurance.

The latest ruling stemmed from Hamrick’s attempt to appear before the medical staff executive committee to explain his medical malpractice plan.
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