In a case of “first impression”, an Illinois appellate court upheld a jury verdict against Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, for “negligent credentialing” by allegedly appointing and re-appointing a podiatrist despite the fact that he did not meet the requisite criteria for receiving certain privileges. Frigo v. Silver Cross Hospital and Medical Center, 876 N.E.2d 697 (1st Dist. 2007).
The doctrine of “negligent credentialing” is a form of “institutional negligence” by a hospital. Hospitals owe a duty of care to their patients, separate and distinct from the duty of care owed by doctors to their patients, and a hospital’s independent breach of that duty can give rise to a claim of “institutional negligence.”
In “negligent credentialing” actions, plaintiffs allege that a hospital was negligent in granting staff privileges to a physician who did not meet the requirements for such privileges. Liability is based on the duty of care owed by the hospital to its patients, independent of any duty owed by the physician.
In Frigo, the podiatrist performed a bunionectomy surgery on the plaintiff at Silver Cross Hospital, even though the plaintiff had an infected ulcer on her foot at the time of the operation. As a result, the plaintiff developed an infected ulcer and, eventually, the plaintiff’s foot had to be amputated. The plaintiff settled her medical malpractice lawsuit with the podiatrist, and proceeded to trial against the hospital.
The jury found, and the appellate court upheld, that the podiatrist should not have been granted Level II surgical privileges because he did not meet the required criteria either at the time of his appointment or reappointment. The appellate court upheld the jury’s award.
Top medical malpractice attorneys in Illinois should consider whether a cause of action for “institutional negligence” or “negligent credentialing” exist, independent from a typical cause of action against a medical professional or institution (based on agency) for medical malpractice.