State Appellate Court Finds Hospital Not Liable for Choosing Not to Make Sure that Physician Maintains Sufficient Medical Malpractice Insurance

A South Carolina appellate court has found that a hospital was not responsible to injured patients for choosing not to make sure that a physician had a valid medical malpractice insurance policy in place. Two former surgery patients sued the Laurens County Healthcare System alleging that the hospital was liable for deciding not to ensure that the plaintiffs’ treating surgeon, Dr. Byron Brown, maintain sufficient medical malpractice insurance coverage.

The plaintiffs obtained default judgments against Dr. Brown. They in turn asserted that such a duty was included in the hospital admissions contract, which included “services to be rendered” to the patient. The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of the hospital.

In affirming the summary judgment order, the appeals panel stated that under the plain language of the admissions contract, it is not reasonable to conclude that the term “services to be rendered” refers to the act of monitoring a treating physician’s compliance with medical malpractice insurance requirements imposed by the hospital. The appellate court also rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that the hospital had negligently granted privileges to Dr. Brown.

South Carolina law does not require physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance, the court said, adding that other courts have rejected attempts to require hospitals to verify whether treating physicians are covered by adequate medical malpractice insurance.

Moreover, the appellate court said that imposing a duty under the hospital corporate negligence doctrine is a matter of public policy for the legislature to act on, and not the courts. As a result, the trial judge’s granting of summary judgment was affirmed.

McCord v. Laurens County Healthcare System, 2020 WL 86744 (S.C. Ct. App.)

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice lawsuits, physician negligence cases, surgery negligence lawsuits, misdiagnosis of cancer lawsuits and wrongful death cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Oak Park, Addison, Hinsdale, Willowbrook, Hickory Hills, Oak Lawn, Homewood, Hillside, Crestwood, Forest Park, Olympia Fields, Park Forest, Lansing, Northlake, Chicago (Uptown, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Belmont Cragin, Lincoln Park, River North, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Greater Grand Crossing, West Pullman, Morgan Park, Washington Heights), Evergreen Park, Chicago Ridge, Cicero, Palos Heights and Justice, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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