Thursday, September 22, 2005
Hiring competent physicians is a long, complex process

By Dr. Anthony Policastro Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Medical director

One of the things that hospitals do when new physicians apply to the medical staff is check their credentials. Another thing that hospitals do is to give new physicians privileges to practice. These terms may sound like big words. They may sound confusing. Actually, they are not that complicated. They are, however, important. There have been a variety of situations where individuals pretending to be doctors got to practice medicine in hospitals. Procedures are now in place to prevent that kind of thing from happening. When a physician applies to work in a hospital, there are a series of things that must be checked. The first is to insure that the physician actually went to medical school. Documents can be forged. For that reason, the information cannot come from a certificate. The information must come from the school. In addition, many hospitals required a picture ID. This insures that the individual whose name is on the application is the same one who shows up. The same kind of check occurs for the residency program that the physician attended. The same kind of check occurs about board certification. the same kind of check occurs about medical licenses. For medical licenses, all the licenses that an individual has are checked. That is to make sure that there are no actions in other states related to the license. Another thing that is checked is what is called current competence. This takes the form of a letter from former supervisors. Most hospitals get multiple letters from supervisors. This is especially true if an individual has moved around from hospital to hospital. There is also a need to make sure that the physician does not have any health problems that would require special accommodations. Some hospitals have also started doing criminal background checks for new applicants. All of these things are called credentials. They prove that an individual is a physician. They prove that an individual has the correct training. They prove that the individual has the right license. They prove that the individual is competent. They prove that the individual is healthy. However, there is an additional step that hospitals then take. They have to give the physician "privileges" to practice at the hospital. Privileges refer to the list of things that a physician is allowed to do based upon his/her credentials. For example, if a heart surgeon requests privileges to deliver babies, the hospital will say no. Even though the heart surgeon is fully trained as a heart surgeon, it does not mean that he/she can function in a delivery room. The same thing would be true if an obstetrician wanted to do heart surgery. The hospital would say no. Every physician is unique. For that reason, the privileges that they request are frequently different from their colleagues. It is up to the hospital to be sure that the requests match their training. It is up to the hospital to make sure that the requests match their abilities. In addition, it is up to the hospital to make sure that the requests match the hospital's capability. A neurosurgeon cannot request privileges to do neurosurgery at a hospital where there is no neurosurgical equipment. The result of this process is to provide assurance to the patient community. It is the assurance that only qualified physicians are on the staff. It is the assurance that those physicians are competent to do the things that they ask to do. This is a complex process. It goes on behind the scenes at hospitals throughout the country. It provides a mechanism for patients to receive their care from certified and competent physicians.

Vigil against domestic violence to be held on Rehoboth boardwalk
A candlelight vigil against domestic violence will be Saturday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m. at the Rehoboth Bandstand on the boardwalk at Rehoboth Avenue. Hosted by the Lewes-based DeVries chapter of Business & Professional Women and WomenNetworking of Southern Delaware, this event is for victims of domestic violence in Sussex County and throughout the state of Delaware. Guest speakers will include Delaware Attorney General Jane Brady, who will serve as master of ceremonies. Speakers will include Carol Post, director of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Debbie Holbrook, director of the Forensic Nursing Program at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford; and Gina Bordley of Families in Transition in Milford. In addition, the Delaware's "Silent Witness" exhibit, a memorial to those killed by domestic violence, will be on display. The exhibit is maintained by the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Participants are asked to bring used cell phones (with chargers) to the event, to donate to the National Coalition Against Violence Donate A Phone program. Participants are also asked to wear purple to the rally Ñ this color represents Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women's advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. A range of activities were conducted at the local, state and national levels. These activities were as diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes: mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end violence. For more information contact DeVries president Holly Wright at 644-9697.