Negligent Credentialing

One obvious malpractice claim in some hospital cases is negligent credentialing. These claims typically allege the hospital should have suspended or revoked the doctor’s privileges or should have monitored and supervised the doctor more closely. This is also known by its legal term, “Why did you let this idiot in your hospital, anyway?”

Maryland law arguably gives hospitals some leverage to fight these claims with its medical review committee privilege. Maryland’s statute, enacted in 1976, provides that “proceedings, records, and files of a medical review committee are not discoverable and are not admissible into evidence in any civil action arising out of matters that are being reviewed and evaluated by the medical review committee” in any civil action.

The hospital uses this privilege as a sword, claiming that it can’t defend itself because it cannot use this evidence at trial. But almost every state has a medical review committee privilege and still, most states allow for negligent credentialling claims. Ultimately, it is a false argument because the vast majority of negligent credentialling cases, the issue is “what did they know and when did they know it?” So the parties are on a level playing field in a medical malpractice lawsuit: the privilege prevents the introduction of what the peer review committee saw but the information that was presented – assuming it was available elsewhere which it must have been if it is at issue, is fair game. What the peer review committee thought does not really matter either way. In other words, if the jury question was whether the batter was safe or out and you have video, it does not matter what the umpire’s call on the field was at the time.