Missouri court upholds negligent credentialing claim against hospital

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 9, 2009

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A Missouri appeals court ruling reinforced that patients can sue hospitals for allegedly granting privileges to physicians with questionable credentials.

Some doctors and hospitals have expressed concern that allowing such negligent credentialing claims could compromise the peer review process. At least 25 other states have recognized negligent credentialing claims.

Dorothea LeBlanc sued Research Belton Hospital after complications following back surgery, alleging that the doctors who performed the procedure were unqualified. The hospital and physicians denied any wrongdoing. Research Belton had argued in court documents that the hospital was immune from liability under the state's peer review statute because it relied on the recommendations of a peer review committee responsible for credentialing doctors.

But judges in the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals unanimously disagreed in a Dec. 9, 2008, decision, saying hospitals have a duty to protect patients when they make privileging decisions. Research Belton has asked the court to reconsider.

P. John Brady, the hospital's attorney, said the decision overlooks public policy considerations expressed in the peer review statute that physicians, through peer review committees, are in the best position to make credentialing decisions, rather than hospital administrators. The ruling also could give trial attorneys another avenue to challenge the peer review process, he said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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