November 30, 2018
Click here to read article in LHA Impact Lawbrief
Taylor Porter Partner Adam Thames' article, "Billeaudeau Effect: Recent Court Rulings Prove Uncertainty on Uncapped Credentialing Claims," was published in the LHA (Louisiana Hospital Association) Impact Lawbrief November 2018 newsletter.
Louisiana law imposes on health care providers a duty to investigate, select, and retain only qualified and competent physicians to care for their patients. Historically, a health care provider’s liability and resulting exposure for breaching these obligations, often categorized as negligent credentialing, was considered inherently related to medical treatment and thus subject to the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (“LMMA”), including the limitations of liability, or “cap” on money damages, recoverable by an aggrieved patient. In October 2016, the Louisiana Supreme Court removed this layer of protection in the landmark decision of Billeaudeau v. Opelousas Gen. Hosp. Auth., 2016-0846 (La. 10/19/16), effectively subjecting health care providers to financial exposure beyond the $500,000 damages cap imposed by the LMMA.
The Supreme Court’s decision sent shockwaves across the legal and medical community as it was in stark contrast to how Louisiana courts historically treated negligent credentialing claims. The Third Circuit Court of Appeal has since issued four separate rulings in Billeaudeau that have ramifications on health care providers that go well beyond that case; and, in some instances, only serve to provide more uncertainty as to how our courts are going to treat the now-uncapped credentialing claims. Short of a legislative amendment, this new landscape of uncapped liability for negligent credentialing is here to stay. Health care providers and those who sit on the committees formed to investigate, select and retain physicians must appreciate the seriousness of this ruling and its continued effect. It is critical now more than ever for health care providers to be proactive in reviewing credentialing policies and procedures to ensure compliance, maintain adequate insurance to protect against this now-uncapped exposure and notify all insurers – general and professional liability carriers – as soon as a claim for negligent credentialing is made.
Thames is a Partner at Taylor Porter and a member of the Firm’s Healthcare Practice Team. He devotes a significant portion of his practice to representing physicians, hospitals, dialysis clinics, nurses, and other healthcare providers in medical malpractice and other professional liability claims. Thames also has extensive experience litigating class action, products liability, personal injury, and insurance defense claims. Adam is ranked by his peers among the 2017 Louisiana Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars.”
Established in 1926, the LHA is a not-for-profit association representing all types of hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the state. The LHA carries out its mission by providing services and resources to members through advocacy, education, research, representation and communication.