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Greisman v. Newcomb Hospital

New Jersey Supreme Court
192 A.2d 817 (1963)


Facts

Paul Greisman (plaintiff) was a doctor of osteopathy licensed to practice medicine in several states, including New Jersey. Greisman had graduated from a medical school that taught both general medicine and osteopathy. However, the American Medical Association (AMA) had a long history of not approving schools that taught osteopathy, and it had not approved Greisman’s school. Greisman practiced medicine in an area of New Jersey that had only one hospital, Newcomb Hospital (Newcomb) (defendant). Newcomb was a private, nonprofit hospital that was tax-exempt and received much of its funding from various government sources and private donations. Newcomb allowed outside doctors to treat patients at the hospital if the doctors were admitted as part of Newcomb’s courtesy staff. Newcomb had a bylaw that limited courtesy-staff applications to doctors who had graduated from schools approved by the AMA and who were members of a local medical society. Although Greisman was a licensed, qualified doctor with experience practicing medicine, neither the local medical society nor Newcomb would even look at Greisman’s applications because he had not graduated from a school approved by the AMA. Essentially, the fact that Greisman was an osteopath instead of a medical doctor was the only obstacle preventing him from being able to treat patients at Newcomb. Newcomb would allow Greisman access to his patients if they were admitted to the hospital, but he had only visitor status. As a visitor, Greisman was not allowed to access his patients’ charts or prescribe medicines or treatments for them. Greisman sued, arguing that Newcomb’s bylaw was unfairly arbitrary. Newcomb responded that it was a private entity and that the courts should not determine what criteria a private hospital uses for its medical staff. A lower court found that Newcomb’s bylaw was invalid, and the case went before the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jacobs, J.)

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