United States District Court, D. Hawaii
JASON C. CHANG, M.D. Plaintiff,
THE REHABILITATION HOSPITAL OF THE PACIFIC; TIMOTHY J. ROE, M.D.; STEPHEN M. OISHI, M.D.; JANE and/or JOHN DOES 1-25, and DOE ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, ECF
Michael Seabright, Chief United States District Judge
16, 2019, Plaintiff Jason C. Chang, M.D.
(“Chang”), filed a Complaint for Declaratory and
Injunctive Relief against Defendants the Rehabilitation
Hospital of the Pacific (the “Hospital”), Timothy
J. Roe, M.D. (“Roe”) and Stephen M. Oishi, M.D.
“Defendants”), arising from the summary
suspension of Chang's medical staff privileges at the
Hospital. ECF No. 1. The Complaint alleges violations of
federal and state constitutional due process rights, federal
and state law, and the Hospital's bylaws. See
before the court is Chang's Motion for Preliminary
Injunction (the “Motion”). ECF No. 3. The Motion
seeks an order enjoining Defendants from summarily suspending
Chang's medical staff privileges at the
Hospital and from reporting Chang's summary
suspension to the National Practitioners Data Bank
(“NPDB”). See Id. Based on the
following, the court DENIES the Motion.
early 2019, Chang, a physician, was employed as the Chief
Medical Officer at the Hospital. He was also a member of the
Hospital's medical staff with privileges at the Hospital,
which meant that Chang could see his own patients at the
Hospital separate from his Hospital employment. The Medical
Executive Committee (“MEC”) governs the medical
staff at the Hospital, including conducting peer review of
medical staff members.
The Medical Staff Bylaws
member of the Hospital's medical staff, Chang agreed to
be bound by the Medical Staff Bylaws.
Medical Staff Bylaws provide that an investigation must be
initiated when “reliable information indicates a member
may have exhibited acts, demeanor, or conduct reasonably
likely to be: 1) detrimental to patient safety or to the
delivery of quality patient care within the Hospital; 2)
unethical; 3) contrary to the Medical Staff bylaws, rules,
and/or policies and procedures.” Medical Staff Bylaws
¶ 8.2.1. But, “[d]espite the status of any
investigation, at all times the [MEC] retains its
authority and discretion to take whatever actions may be
warranted by the circumstances including summary
suspension . . . .” Id. ¶ 8.2.3
completion of the investigation, a report must be provided to
the MEC. Id. ¶ 8.2.3. “If corrective
action is being contemplated, the member shall be notified in
writing by the [MEC] or its designee that an investigation is
being conducted, and the member shall be given an opportunity
to provide information in a manner and upon such terms, as
the investigating panel deems appropriate.”
Id. After conclusion of the investigation, the MEC
may recommend (among other options) suspension of clinical
privileges and medical staff membership. Id. ¶
8.2.4. If suspension is recommended, then the practitioner is
entitled to procedural rights, and the practitioner must be
given notice of the adverse recommendation and of the right
to a formal hearing. Id. ¶ 8.2.6.
Medical Staff Bylaws provide that, at any time (even prior to
the completion of an investigation), the MEC may
“summarily suspend the Medical Staff member of all or
any portion of the clinical privileges of such
practitioner” if “a practitioner's conduct
violates these Bylaws or other hospital policies or whenever
conduct requires immediate action to be taken to reduce a
substantial likelihood of imminent danger to the health or
safety of any patient, employee or other person present in
the Hospital.” Id. ¶ 8.3.1. “The
practitioner has a right to attend the meeting and make a
statement on such terms and conditions of the summary
suspension as the [MEC] may impose.” Id. But
that meeting does not constitute a hearing with procedural
the summary suspension becomes effective, the practitioner
must be notified that he or she has a right to MEC review as
described above, with the additional requirements that the
corrective action investigation must be completed within
thirty days, and a hearing must be commenced within sixty
days after the practitioner requests it. Id.
Disruptive Practitioners Policy
adopted a Disruptive Practitioners Policy, which provides
When a practitioner's conduct disrupts the operation of
the hospital, affects the ability of others to get their jobs
done, creates a “hostile work environment” for
hospital employees or other practitioners on the medical
staff, or begins to interfere with the practitioner's own
ability to practice competently, action must be taken.
Disruptive behaviors, depending on the nature and severity,
may require immediate action, including summary suspension.
All credentialed providers will be managed through the
Medical Staff Bylaws and Policies. . . .
Practitioners Policy, Section I. Policy.
The Allegations and the Hospital's Subsequent
March 2019, two Hospital employees brought complaints against
Chang to Human Resources. Neither of these employees were
physicians. Those employees worked in the Hospital's
Wheelchair Seating and Mobility Clinic (the
“Clinic”). Employee #1 alleged that Chang engaged
in inappropriate conduct towards her and Employee #2.
Employee #2 filed her own complaint, which alleged that Chang
engaged in sexual harassment against her. Within a few weeks
of making the allegations, both employees were put on
administrative leave. In late-March, the Hospital hired Susan
Ichinose (“Ichinose”), a Honolulu attorney, to
conduct an independent investigation of the allegations. The
Clinic was closed on April 15, 2019 because a temporary
replacement could not be found for Employee #2-she was still
on administrative leave and had specialized training
essential to running the Clinic.
April 25, 2019, Oishi, President of the MEC, notified Chang
that he was placed on restrictions and directives pursuant to
the Medical Staff Bylaws based on the allegations. On May 3,
2019, Chang was notified that he had violated those
restrictions and directives. On May 10, 2019, Ichinose
interviewed Chang with his attorney present. On May 24, 2019,
the MEC unanimously approved the appointment of an Ad ...