QUESTION: We have an applicant for appointment and clinical privileges who seems to have an unusual number of malpractice cases in his history. Do we need to do anything with this information if everything else about the applicant checks out?
ANSWER: Every application for appointment and reappointment asks applicants about their malpractice history. But many hospitals don’t know what to do with the information they receive. The Joint Commission requires hospitals to consider “any evidence of an unusual pattern or an excessive number of professional liability actions resulting in a final judgment against the applicant” in granting privileges. But what is “an unusual pattern or an excessive number”?
A physician’s malpractice history cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule on what constitutes reasonable due diligence when it comes to reviewing these types of disclosures. The key is to know what to look for:
- Not all malpractice claims are created equal, so information should be obtained to understand the nature of the claims.
- The number of claims may not tell the whole story, but patterns or trends do.
- Don’t compare apples to oranges – know which states and which specialties are more “at risk” for malpractice claims.
- There is a big difference between malpractice claims and malpractice verdicts.
To learn more about how to consider an applicant’s malpractice claims history, as well as other hot topics in the world of credentialing, please join LeeAnne Mitchell and Ian Donaldson this fall at The Credentialing Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada.