Negligent credentialing claim puts reputations at risk

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But in a December 2011 decision, Ferradino ruled that the hospital was not responsible for the doctor’s actions.  “Dr. Abraham was not an employee of the hospital,” the judge wrote.  “He was an independent agent who was granted admitting privileges at the hospital.”  Ferradino also denied the claim that the hospital was responsible for the failure of the nurses and others who were in the operating room to stop the unscheduled procedure, partly because the claim was an allegation not previously asserted in the lawsuit, which is not permitted without the permission of the court.

But the judge did grant part of Stalker’s motion, ruling that the allegation of negligent credentialing against the hospital should continue.  Referring to Abraham’s termination by other employers, the state’s investigation, and the malpractice lawsuits filed against him, Ferradino wrote:  “These ‘red flags’ establish the existence of issues of fact regarding whether or not the Hospital breached its duty to exercise due diligence and to properly investigate Dr. Abraham before renewing his privileges. Thus plaintiff has presented a question of fact as to whether or not the Hospital negligently failed to restrict Dr. Abraham’s staff privileges based upon a lack of due diligence in examining his background and credentials.”

Those rulings are taking the case back to the Appellate Division, putting on hold a trial that was first scheduled for January of this year and then rescheduled for July.  Stalker’s attorney’s are also asking for permission to reargue their 2011 motion, according to information posted on the court system’s web page.

No insurance coverage?

In July 2005, the state Board For Professional Medical Conduct revoked Abraham’s medical license, citing gross negligence, filing false reports, fraud in the practice of medicine, moral unfitness to practice medicine, placing false information about his credentials on his web site and having a psychiatric condition which impairs the ability to practice.  A psychiatrist  who examined him for the board wrote in a report that he was “… the most amoral person I have evaluated who was not behind bars.”  Abraham’s appeal of the revocation to the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in 2007 was unanimously denied.

At the time of Stalker’s surgery, Abraham may have had medical malpractice insurance.  But malpractice insurance is not as straightforward as say, auto coverage.  Because claims are often made some time after an alleged malpractice, providers can obtain different types of policies.

One type is known as ‘occurrence’ coverage and, like an auto policy, it provides insurance for incidents that occur during the time the policy is in effect.  This type of coverage is very expensive. Another is ‘claims made’ coverage, which provides insurance for claims received during the policy term.