Did Medical Autonomy Clash with Hospital Policy During the Pandemic?
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a physician’s decision to use off-label treatments led to a complex legal battle, raising questions about medical autonomy and hospital policies.
- Dr. H, the chief of medical staff at a large public hospital, used the medication bamlanivimab for treating four COVID-19 patients. This medication had an emergency use authorization for mild-to-moderate cases but was not approved for hospitalized patients.
- Two patients showed positive results, and none experienced adverse effects.
- Before Dr. H could treat a fifth patient, the hospital administration suspended the use of bamlanivimab.
- The Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and Ms. N, the charge nurse, informed the patient and their family about the suspension, stating the medication’s non-approval for hospitalized cases.
- Dr. H was later dismissed, officially for not adhering to the hospital’s personal protective equipment policy.
- Dr. H sued the hospital, its CEO, the CNO, and Ms. N on multiple grounds.
- The court dismissed Dr. H’s claims of discrimination and interference with his relationship with a patient.
- The court did not recognize Dr. H’s argument that his right to exercise medical judgment was a fundamental right.
- Dr. H’s claim of retaliation for his “expressive conduct” was also dismissed.
- The slander claim, based on Ms. N’s communication with the patient and family, was dismissed as it wasn’t connected to Dr. H’s dismissal or proven to harm his reputation.
- The court determined that Dr. H’s case was primarily an employment dispute, not a constitutional claim, and dismissed the case against the hospital’s CEO, CNO, and Ms. N.