The change in the JCAHO Medical Staff Standard to require that the medical staff bylaws be an integrated document has created a firestorm of controversy that should be less than a tempest in a teapot. Prediction of expensive disasters in redrafting bylaws, and arguing over what is process versus what is procedure, is absurd and fomented by a cadre of law firms who have made significant income from advising medical staffs and hospitals that the bylaws should be divided up into five different sections so that they may be more easily amended. The Medical Staff Bylaws are the Constitution of the Medical Staff and should be amended about as easily as the US Constitution is amended. We have written and advised on medical staff bylaws for more than 100 medical staffs all around the country over the last 30 years, and this is not all we do, as it is for some firms. We have never advised a medical staff to disaggregate their bylaws.

The other noteworthy change adopted by the Joint Commission for 2009 was that the medical staff should have the right to propose medical staff bylaws changes directly to the board. This should be non-threatening unless you have a renegade medical staff or a renegade medical executive committee where the representative function of the MEC has broken down. It would be the board’s responsibility to sort this out if the medical staff asked for changes, not recommended by the MEC, that were not in the best interests of the hospital. Everyone should calm down about these feared power struggles and focus on the real purpose of the medical staff, which is to be responsible for quality in the institution. When organizations do that effectively the medical staff can become more galvanized for a far better purpose than internal turf and power struggles.