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Proving negligent credentialing in court: overcoming a hospital’s presumption of innocence

On Behalf of | May 20, 2016 | Hospital Negligence

In recent posts, we’ve been looking at a case which highlights a couple important issues in the area of medical malpractice: the impact of medical peer review privilege on medical malpractice litigation and physician credentialing.

Last time, we began looking at physician credentialing, which is related to hospitals’ duty to perform due diligence in checking a physician’s background and performance before granting or renewing privileges to practice. Not every state recognizes negligent credentialing as a legitimate tort action. Ohio does recognize such a tort action, and there are specific rules in place regarding how negligent credentialing is to be proven in court.

For one thing, state law specifies that hospitals are presumed to have done their duty with regard to physicians who have, or who applied for, staff membership or professional privileges according to the proper procedures. This presumption may be rebutted in several circumstances:

  • The credentialing and review requirements did not apply to the hospital;
  • The hospital failed to comply with all material credentialing and review requirements;
  • The hospital knew that a previously competent physician had developed a pattern of incompetence or inappropriate behavior which warranted termination prior to the physician’s provision of care to the individual pursuing the negligent credentialing claim;
  • The hospital knew that a previously competent physician would provide fraudulent medical treatment but failed to take action.

For plaintiffs pursuing a negligent credentialing claim, sufficient evidence must be presented to prove it is more likely than not that the hospital engaged in wrongdoing. This is known as the preponderance of the evidence standard, which is the ordinary civil standard.

In a future post, we’ll continue this discussion and look at how an experienced medical malpractice attorney is indispensable in pursuing negligent credentialing claims.