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Hospital Negligence: Can a hospital be liable for actions of a Doctor Practicing there?

In the recent NC Court of Appeals case of the Estate of Ray v. Forgy NC APP COA12-1071, the court examined the reasons when it would be appropriate to find the hospital negligent for the actions of one of their physicians.  The court made clear that the physician at question was privileged by the hospital but was not employed or an agent of the hospital, never the less: “[T]here are fundamentally two kinds of [corporate negligence] claims: (1) those relating to negligence in clinical care provided by the hospital directly to the patient,and (2) those relating to negligence in the administration or management of the hospital.” Estate of Waters v. Jarman, 144 N.C. App. 98, 101, 547 S.E.2d 142, 144, disc. review denied, 354 N.C. 68, 553 S.E.2d 213 (2001). Cases alleging a failure by the hospital to adequately monitor and oversee a physician or which contend the hospital was negligent in granting privileges to unqualified physicians are examples of the latter, and require the court to apply the reasonably prudent person standard of care in assessing negligence. Id. at 102-03, 547 S.E.2d at 145 (discussing Blanton v. Moses H. Cone Hosp., Inc., 319 N.C. 372,375, 354 S.E.2d 455, 457 (1987)). A failure to inquire further into a matter listed on an application for renewal of surgical privileges has been deemed sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether a hospital was negligent in re-credentialing a doctor. See Carter v. Hucks-Folliss, 131 N.C. App. 145, 147-48, 505 S.E.2d 177, 178-79 , disc. review denied, 349 N.C. 528, 526 S.E.2d 173 (1998). Therefore, as in this case, the failure of the hospital to inquire about legal claims against the Doctor while allowing him to continue to practice medicine may be enough to allow a claim for the failure to adequately credential the physician. In other words, although a physician may not be actually employed by a hospital, the hospital must still check the qualifications of a physician or doctor before allowing them to work at the hospital and if they fail to do so and someone is hurt; the hospital is responsible for the damages. Hospital Negligence attorney — Joe Tunstall

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