Addressing Inadequate Credentialing in Medical Malpractice Defense

When pursuing medical malpractice claims, plaintiffs will often seek not only to hold physicians liable, but also to establish liability on the part of the facilities where they or their loved ones received treatment. While these claims can be based on a variety of legal theories, one of the most common theories is inadequate credentialing.

As a general rule, hospitals and other healthcare facilities have a legal duty to ensure that the physicians they hire have adequate credentials. If they fail to do so—and if this failure rises to the level of negligence—they can be held accountable for patients’ and families’ losses. But, in many cases, this failure will not rise to the level of negligence, and healthcare facilities will be able to avoid liability by demonstrating that they took sufficient steps to screen their personnel and contractors.

Here are some examples of potential defense strategies in inadequate credentialing (or negligent credentialing) cases:

The Facility’s Credentialing Practices Aren’t Inadequate

One way to defend against negligent credentialing allegations in a medical malpractice case is to demonstrate that the facility’s credentialing practices align with healthcare industry standards. Credentialing practices are not foolproof, and members of credentialing committees can (and do) make mistakes. The fact that a physician lacked adequate credentials does not necessarily mean that a facility’s credentialing practices are inadequate—and highlighting this fact will prove to be an effective defense strategy in many cases.  

The Physician Provided False Credentials

Healthcare facilities’ duty to conduct due diligence only extends so far. If a physician provides false credentials, a facility may have no way of knowing—and it may have no reason to suspect that further investigation is warranted. When this is the case, failing to undertake additional credentialing measures does not rise to the level of negligence.

The Physician Hid Complaints or Violations at Another Facility

In addition to providing false credentials, physicians may also hide complaints or violations incurred at other facilities. Here, too, if a facility has no way of knowing (and no reason to suspect) that a physician is hiding information relevant to its decision-making, then its credentialing decisions should not trigger civil liability in medical malpractice litigation.

The Facility Had Placed the Physician on Probation

Terminating a healthcare facility’s relationship with a physician is a significant step. In many cases, facilities will be justified in taking disciplinary measures short of termination, such as placing a physician on probation. If a physician makes a mistake that rises to the level of medical malpractice while on probation, the facility’s disciplinary measures may serve as a defense to liability.  

Again, these are just examples. From demonstrating that a physician exceeded the scope of his or her authority to demonstrating that a physician’s mistake does not rise to the level of malpractice, there are several other ways to defend against inadequate credentialing claims as well. For more information, schedule an appointment with a medical malpractice defense lawyer at Rendigs today.

Schedule an Appointment at Rendigs

If you need to engage defense counsel to fight allegations of inadequate credentialing, we invite you to get in touch. Please call 513-381-9200 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at Rendigs.