Holding Hospitals Accountable for Negligent Credentialing

Kentucky’s highest court is considering the liability of a hospital that negligently credentials physicians and medical professionals. As reported by the Commonwealth Journal, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (LCHR) is involved in a case before the Kentucky Supreme Court and the outcome could have far-reaching implications for hospitals and medical centers across the state.

The case stems from a back surgery performed at LCHR by a doctor who was licensed by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, but was not an employee of the hospital. The patient sued the physician and the hospital based on allegations of paralysis and pain. She entered a settlement with the doctor, but received no award from the hospital after a lower court dismissed her case against the institution. The patient appealed the decision to the Appeals Court and won. The hospital then filed an appeal to that decision, which placed the case in front of the state Supreme Court.

The argument for hospital accountability

If it is ultimately decided that the hospital engaged in negligent credentialing, the institution may be liable for damages under the patient’s medical malpractice claim. The argument for accountability centers on the surgeon, who was not an employee of the hospital. He worked at the hospital as an independent contractor and was granted staff privileges. According to the Commonwealth Journal, the doctor had reportedly been sued numerous times for malpractice in other states. He also allegedly had a history of substance abuse.

The patient argued that, by allowing the physician to perform her procedure, the hospital breached its duty to provide her with proper care, which included credentialing the physician who performed her surgery. Her argument essentially asserts that relying on the surgeon’s license, without additional credentialing, is inadequate to meet a reasonable standard.

The argument against hospital liability

Conversely, the hospital asserted that there is no law or regulation requiring hospitals to perform credentialing for an independent contractor. It was also argued that if the court created a new cause of action for negligent credentialing, it would be placing an undue burden on small and rural medical centers.

While the court has yet to reach a ruling in the case, one justice did inquire about the difference between negligent credentialing and negligent hiring, which is a common cause of action in personal injury cases.

The skilled Ohio and Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers of Crandall & Pera Law have successfully handled numerous medical malpractice cases. Please call our Ohio office at 877-686-8879, or in Kentucky at 877-686-8879. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation.