• Negligent Credentialing
  • September 25, 2017
  • Hospitals are big businesses, employing thousands of workers that must provide a standard of care that keeps patients safe while offering qualified medical services. A hospital requires the services of many professionals, from doctors and nurses, to medical assistants and technologists, and support staff such as clerical, janitorial, and maintenance. Though each employee has a different level of responsibility, all staff must work together to ensure patient safety.

    One area that is crucial to the success and reputation of a hospital is credentialing. Credentials prove the qualifications of a medical professional, and help hospitals make sound decisions on who they allow to practice medicine in their facility. Failure to check credentials and require careful inspection on maintaining credentials for doctors can lead to lawsuits and loss of integrity for the hospital.

    Negligent Credentialing

    Doctors that practice medicine in hospitals are mostly independent contractors, meaning they are offered the privilege of practicing in the hospital, but they are not hospital employees. While the hospital would not be liable for medical malpractice committed by the doctor, they can be held liable for negligent credentialing if they failed to thoroughly investigate the doctor’s credentials before granting practicing privileges.

    Those responsible for investigating credentials and granting hospital privileges to doctors are depended on to investigate several areas. The first is to confirm that the doctor has the medical degrees and certifications that they claim to have. If a doctor is medically negligent and this results in patient harm or fatality, investigators will look for confirmation of medical degrees and certifications the physician claims to hold.

    The next piece of information in the credentialing process is to investigate whether the doctor has prior complaints, disciplinary actions, or medical malpractice claims against them. Again, if the doctor fails to provide a standard of care to a patient resulting in an injury, the hospital will be held liable for negligent credentialing if they failed to identify these past issues. It is the hospital’s responsibility to ensure that their patients receive qualified services from the physicians that have practicing privileges. The most important way to do this is through careful inspection of credentialing.

    Costs of Negligent Credentialing

    The most serious impact negligent credentialing can have is the harm that can come to patients. Unqualified doctors working in hospitals have the potential of harming countless patients. Moreover, the loss of reputation as a quality healthcare institution can lead to lost revenue and the legal fees associated with defending the hospital can be crippling.

    Medicare and Medicaid programs have recently started excluding hospitals and providers that failed to go thorough credentialing. The risks are too high for these programs to partner with those who fail to perform the necessary investigations. Healthcare agencies and providers have put a renewed focus on credentialing for these reasons.

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