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From Antitrust Law Daily, August 13, 2014

Physician’s revocation of privileges claims failed to plead antitrust injury

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

A physician did not plead an antitrust injury in her suit against a hospital and several physicians for alleged antitrust violations in the hospital’s termination and revocation of the physician’s staffing and clinical privileges, the federal district court in Chicago has ruled. Thus, the defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted (Levitin v. Northwest Community Hospital, August 12, 2014, Feinerman, G.).

Yelena Levitin is a physician who has been practicing as a general surgeon and a principal in the Chicago Surgical Clinic, Ltd. In 2000, Levitin obtained staff and clinical privileges at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) and her privileges were renewed every two years after approvals from the NCH Board of Directors, Credentials Committee, Medical Executive Committee (MEC), Chief of the General Surgery Section, and Chief of the Surgery Department. Levitin’s privileges allowed her to use NCH facilities and to have access to various services and equipment. Although she was allowed to maintain privileges at other hospitals, the vast majority of Levitin’s practice was at NCH.

In 2010, after the heads of the General Surgery and Surgery Departments submitted complaints about Levitin’s practice, a peer review process was initiated. Although a review committee found Levitin to be well-trained and competent, NCH revoked Levitin’s clinical privileges and staff membership. Levitin filed suit against NCH and three physicians, alleging restraint of trade, monopoly, attempt to monopolize, and conspiracy to monopolize, in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, among other claims. The defendants moved for dismissal.

The court found that Levitin failed to plead an antitrust injury. An antitrust complaint must include factual allegations that the claimed injuries were the type the antitrust laws were intended to prevent. Levitin alleged that the defendants misused the peer review process and revoked her privileges in order to eliminate physicians with her ethnic and religious background as competitors in the market for general surgery services in the community served by NCH. The court noted that Levitin stated in her complaint that she continued to maintain full staff and clinical privileges at various hospitals, which were located in the same geographic vicinity as NCH. Since it was undisputed that any injury caused by the defendants’ action affected only Levitin as a competitor and not competition in general, Levitin did not plead an antitrust injury, the court concluded.

The case is No. 1:13-mc-05553.

Attorneys: Susan Bogart (Law Offices of Susan Bogart) for Yelena Levitin and Chicago Surgical Clinic. Patrick Sean Coffey (Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek) for Northwest Community Hospital and Advanced Surgical Associates.

Companies: Northwest Community Hospital; Advanced Surgical Associates, S.C.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust IllinoisNews

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