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Georgia Court of Appeals Remands Negligent Credentialing Case – Health Law and Regulation Update Post by Eric Frisch

May 2, 2022

Health Law and Regulation Update Blog post by Eric Frisch.

The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings a negligent credentialing claim against a staffing company that is not a hospital, medical facility, or clinic. Plaintiff originally asserted claims against a CRNA, supervising physician, and a clinic arising out of the death of a patient at the clinic. At the time, the CRNA worked at the pain clinic under a services contract with the defendant staffing company. The CRNA had three prior disciplinary actions in Alabama and Georgia and had another patient complication almost 2 years earlier at the pain clinic. Plaintiff settled with the CRNA, supervising physician, and clinic, who obtained a release of all claims, including vicarious liability.

Plaintiff then sued the staffing company for negligent hiring, training, credentialing, retention, and supervision of the CRNA, medical malpractice, imputed/vicarious liability, corporate negligence, and other claims. The staffing company moved for summary judgment and the trial court granted the motion. The trial court ruled that the CRNA was an independent contractor, the settlement agreement barred the vicarious liability claims, and the negligent hiring and retention claims failed because there was no evidence that the CRNA’s acts or omissions caused the patient’s death.

The Court of Appeals affirmed on everything except the negligent credentialing claim. The Court held there was no evidence the staffing company ratified the acts of the independent contractor CRNA or that Plaintiff was a party to the professional services agreement such that he could recover under it. Of note, the Court wrote that it had not found any binding authority addressing whether a negligent credentialing claim could lie against an entity like a staffing company that is not a hospital, clinic, or similar medical facility. Based on expert affidavits regarding the underlying events, the Court held the negligent credentialing claim should be remanded for briefing on the issue of whether a staffing company can be held liable on this theory.

Take-home: This was a factually complex opinion that turned on several different points. It is worth keeping an eye on this case to see whether the negligent credentialing claim comes back up on appeal.

The case is Miller v. Polk, ___ S.E.2d ___ 2022 WL 128662 (April 29, 2022).

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