HOSPITAL’S DUTY TO ENSURE COMPETENCY
Citation: Candler Gen. Hosp., Inc. v. Persaud,
442 S.E.2d 775 (Ga. Ct. App. 1994)
On or about February 15, 1990, the patient in this case was referred to Dr. Freeman for consultation and treatment of gallstones. Freeman recommended that the patient undergo a laparoscopic laser cholecystectomy procedure. On February 16, 1990, Freeman requested and was granted temporary privileges to perform the procedure. The privileges were granted based on a certificate he had received after completing a laparoscopic laser cholecystectomy workshop, which he took on February 10, 1990. Freeman performed the cholecystectomy on February 20, 1990, with the assistance of Dr. Thomas. A complaint by the administrator of the patient’s estate, supported by an expert’s affidavit, alleged that the cholecystectomy was negligently performed, and as a result, the patient bled to death. The complaint charged the hospital with negligence in permitting Freeman to perform the procedure on the decedent without having instituted any standards, training requirements, or “protocols,” or otherwise instituted any method for judging the qualifications of a surgeon to perform the procedure. The complaint also alleged that the hospital knew or reasonably should have known that it did not have a credentialing process that could have assured the hospital of the physicians’ education, training, and ability to perform the procedure. The trial court denied the hospital’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiffs’ evidence was sufficient to raise a question of fact regarding whether surgical privileges should have been issued by the hospital to Freeman. The hospital appealed.
Was there a material issue of fact as to whether the hospital was negligent in granting the specific privileges requested by Freeman?
The Georgia Court of Appeals held that there was a material issue of fact as to whether the hospital was negligent in granting the specific privileges requested, thus precluding summary judgment.
The court found that a hospital has a direct and independent responsibility to its patients to take reasonable steps to ensure that physicians using hospital facilities are qualified for the privileges granted. The hospital owed a duty to the plaintiffs’ decedent to act in good faith and with reasonable care to ensure that the surgeon was qualified to practice the procedure that he was granted privileges to perform.
1. Describe the credentialing issues in this case.
2. Discuss what steps a hospital should take to help ensure that a physician is competent to perform the procedures he or she is requesting.