MU Health Care unanimously votes to discontinue ‘refer and follow’

The “refer and follow” privileges of two medical providers were described as “outdated and unnecessary.”

The executive committee of the medical staff of MU Health Care voted unanimously to discontinue “refer and follow” as part of the MU Health Care facilities, according to a Sept. 24 MU News Bureau release. This decision comes after a review by the MU Health Care medical staff of their policies and procedures.

“Refer and follow privileges only allow physicians to access their own patients’ information,” said Steve Whitt, chief medical officer of MU Health Care and a member of the executive committee, in the release. “This level of access to patient information is already permitted by any referring provider, including those not on MU Health Care’s medical staff; therefore, the designation of refer and follow privileges was outdated and unnecessary.”

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri released a statement on Sept. 24, roughly one hour before the MU News Bureau’s, arguing the value of these privileges.

“These privileges are increasingly used in hospitals across the country to allow physicians who seldom or never need to admit patients to a hospital the ability to maintain staff privileges,” said Sheila Kostas, PPKM vice president of public affairs and communications, in the release. “Referring physicians can then follow their patients’ progress if ever needed, but the attending physician at the hospital provides the necessary patient care.”

Out of MU Health Care’s 800 medical providers, only two had refer and follow privileges of MU Health Care’s medical staff.

Several members of the Missouri legislature prompted the review of MU Health Care’s policies and privileges, including Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin asked the medical staff to review and make revisions to these policies, the release stated.

“This is a continuation of the orchestrated attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion in Missouri and to the critical services Planned Parenthood has provided for nearly 100 years,” Kostas said in the release.

MU Health Care is also proposing an additional review of contributing applicants that looks at how MU Health Care’s missions of “providing exemplary patient and family-centered care, high-quality professional education and research” are fulfilled.

These changes have been forwarded to MU Health Care’s eligible voting medical staff members for comment. After the comment period, the executive committee will consider the suggestions prior to voting.

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