Credentialing: Kentucky Supreme Court Declines to Recognize a Tort of Negligent Credentialing

February 7, 2018 | Risk Management News

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A recent Kentucky Supreme Court opinion reflects the jurisprudence of a substantial minority of states that do not recognize a cause of action for negligent credentialing. In addressing this question, the court consolidated three recent cases for review. In the first case (Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital v. Adams), a Kentucky hospital granted medical staff privileges to a neurosurgeon who had a history of depression and chemical dependence. Although the record before the court showed the neurosurgeon had sought treatment four years earlier and had "no instances" of substance abuse since his treatment, peer references did call into question his "professional judgment and patient management." A patient suffered complications that arose during the course of a spinal stabilization procedure and sued the surgeon, the surgeon's clinic, and the hospital for negligence. One of her claims against the hospital asserted that the institution should not have granted privileges to the surgeon owing to his history and the concerns his peers had expressed; however, she dismissed her other claims against the hospital, and the hospital then moved for dismissal of the remaining claim for negligent credentialing. The trial court agreed, finding that Kentucky did not recognize a cause of action for negligent credentialing. The patient appealed.

In Spring View Hospital v. Jones, another Kentucky hospital granted medical staff privileges to a physician who left blank the spaces on the application asking for his specialty board certifications, which the hospital required of all of its active medical staff. A patient who experienced complications after knee replacement and total knee arthroplasty sued the surgeon for malpractice and sued the hospital for negligent credentialing. The hospital moved to dismiss the plaintiff's claims, again because Kentucky does not recognize a tort of negligent credentialing. The court agreed, and although the plaintiff appealed, she ultimately settled her claim against the physician. The trial court in this case denied summary judgment based on the...

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