Kentucky Physicians in the Headlines

Can any state rival Kentucky for keeping physicians in the headlines in recent days? Three big stories in a five-day span:

On October 30 the Franklin Circuit Court struck down as unconstitutional a new Kentucky statute establishing medical review panels to screen medical malpractice cases before they go to court.

On November 2, in a different case, the Kentucky Supreme Court parted ways with the majority of states by refusing to recognize negligent credentialing of physicians by hospitals as a separate cause of action.

And, of course, on November 3 Kentucky’s best-known physician, Senator Rand Paul, was physically attacked and seriously injured by an assailant. And the alleged assailant was—you guessed it—another physician, Dr. Rene Boucher.

In the first case Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the review panels constitute an impermissible barrier to the right of plaintiffs to have their cases heard in court. Governor Matt Bevin, a supporter of the statute, vowed to appeal the decision.

In the second case the state’s highest court didn’t say that a hospital can’t be liable for negligent credentialing. It said was that Kentucky does not recognize negligent credentialing as a “stand-alone tort.” Negligent credentialing is derivative of the physician malpractice that allegedly resulted from it. Therefore, plaintiffs will generally be required to prove the underlying physician negligence in order to state a claim for negligent credentialing.

The credentialing case is Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital v. Adams (Ky. Nov. 2, 2017).

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