SW Legal studies in Business

Hospital May Assume Vicarious Liability for Negligence in Issuing Credentials

Minnesota high court held that Minnesota would adopt the rule that exists in a majority of the states that there is a tort action for negligent credentialing. Hospitals have a duty beyond the furnishing of facilities as patients rely on their expertise in granting credentials to surgeons and other professionals using the facilities.



Key Words

Negligence; Vicarious Liability; Duty of Care; Credentials

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Mary Larson had gastric bypass surgery at a hospital in Minnesota. Due to complications, she had to have a second surgery by the same surgeons. That was not successful and she had to be moved to a long-term care facility and later had a third surgery. She was hospitalized for more than two months. She sued the surgeons for malpractice and sued the hospital for the tort of negligent credentialing, arguing that the hospital can be liable based on vicarious liability for the negligence of employees as it violates its duty to exercise reasonable care in the provision of health services. After complicated proceedings, the question before the Minnesota high court was if the state recognized the tort of negligent credentialing.


Minnesota does recognize the tort of negligent credentialing, so Larsonís case may proceed. The factors to be considered include 1) whether the tort is inherent in, or the natural extension of, a common law right, 2) whether the tort has been recognized in other states, 3) whether recognition of a cause of action will create tension with other relevant laws, and 4) whether such tension is outweighed by the importance of the additional protections that recognition of the claim would provide to injured persons. Most states recognize this right in tort. It reflects the publicís perception of a hospital as a complex health care facility responsible for the quality of medical care and treatment rendered. The hospital assumes the role of a comprehensive health center responsible for arranging and coordinating total health care. This means the hospitalís role is more than the furnishing of physical facility; when it credentials physicians it assumes a responsibility of review of the competence of staff members. The details of the case at trial will determine if there is any liability and if it is assigned to the surgeons or may also be assigned to the hospital.


Larson v. Wasemiller, 738 N.W.2d 300 (Sup. Ct., Minn., 2007)

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