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Sokol v. Akron General Medical Center

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
173 F.3d 1026 (1999)


Sokol (plaintiff) was a cardiac surgeon on staff at Akron General Medical Center (Akron) (defendant). The Medical Council at Akron became concerned about a high number of Sokol’s patients dying when they underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). The Council established a task force to review the entire cardiac surgery program, lead by Dr. Michael Pine. Pine determined that Sokol’s decision to select high-risk patients for the CABG procedure, which often led to their deaths, warranted review. Thereafter, an ad hoc investigatory committee concluded that Sokol had not adequately screened out high-risk patients and had not taken sufficient precautions to protect patients from having heart attacks just prior and during the CABG procedure. The investigatory committee made recommendations to the Medical Council which would adversely affect Sokol’s clinical privileges. Sokol appeared before the Medical Council when it voted to approve and implement all of the committee’s recommendations. A hearing committee recommended that all of Sokol’s CABG privileges be reinstated. The Medical Council rejected the committee’s decision and reaffirmed its own determination. Under hospital bylaws, Sokol then appealed to a hospital executive committee which affirmed the Council’s decision. Sokol sought injunctive relief in federal district court. A district court magistrate judge agreed with Sokol and held that the notice provided to Sokol was insufficient and that the decision made by the Medical Council was arbitrary. Akron then appealed to the court of appeals.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Norris, J.)

Dissent (Merritt, J.)

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