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Hospital Negligent Credentialing: Legal Challenges and Patient Safety

Proper credentialing is essential for ensuring physician competence and patient safety. However, negligent credentialing can lead to significant legal and medical issues, often obscured by legal protections.

In this blog, you will learn about the importance of the credentialing process for hospitals, the legal challenges and discovery complexities in negligent credentialing claims, and real-life examples illustrating the impact of negligent credentialing.

The Role of Credentialing

Credentialing involves verifying that healthcare professionals meet the necessary qualifications to provide patient care. Hospitals must adhere to their bylaws, medical staff policies, and industry standards, such as those set by The Joint Commission (TJC), to grant privileges. Discernibly, a patient’s safety is severely compromised if a physician is granted privileges without proving current competence.

Legal Challenges in Negligent Credentialing Claims

Negligent credentialing claims can be difficult to prove. The discovery process can be costly and often protected under the “peer review privilege.” However, when a credentialing claim is independently made against the hospital, “the credentialing and re-credentialing data, and the recommendations made and action taken as a result of any peer review process utilized by such health care entity regarding the health care professional prior to the date of the alleged negligence shall be subject to discovery pursuant to the Oklahoma Discovery Code.” 63 O.S. § 1709.1(D)(1).

Case Study: Brewster & De Angelis

Brewster & De Angelis recently filed a lawsuit alleging negligent credentialing of a physician who lacked proof of current clinical competence for a specific procedure, resulting in a young boy suffering a life-long injury. During the discovery process, necessary documents were missing. After filing motions to compel, opposing counsel informed the court: “I produced what I’ve been given as his entire credentialing file.”¬†At trial, their expert witness testified that his opinion that the hospital properly credentialed the doctor was based on documents that he presumed existed but, due to “peer review privilege,” he had not seen. Without disclosure and review, no determination can be made as to the reliability of the expert’s opinion as required under Oklahoma law. The expert’s testimony was subsequently stricken from the record.

Outcome: Brewster & De Angelis was able to secure the largest medical negligent verdict in the state of Oklahoma for our client.

The need for transparency cannot be overstated; without it, we risk failing those who the hospital has a duty to protect. By understanding the causes, legal challenges, and personal stories behind these injuries, we can advocate for better standards and support those affected by such events.

For expert legal guidance in a medical malpractice claim, contact us today.

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