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Illinois Supreme Court Lets Credential Ruling Stand

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CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to review a case that established the tort of negligent credentialing of doctors by hospitals as a cause of action in Illinois.

The petition for leave to appeal was brought by Silver Cross Hospital and Medical Centers in Joliet.  The hospital was challenging a $7.78 million verdict in favor of Jean Frigo.  The 1st District Appellate Court had affirmed the verdict in July. 

Frigo, a former critical care nurse, had to have part of her left foot amputated when she developed an infection following bunion surgery in 1998 at the hospital.  After a setoff for a settlement with the doctor who performed the surgery, the judgment against the hospital was $6.68 million.

In all, the high court denied a total of 245 petitions for leave to appeal, and accepted 17 cases.

According to the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter, the Frigo verdict set a record high for podiatric errors in the last 18 years.

And according to the appeals court ruling written by Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr., no Illinois case had previously recognized the tort of negligent credentialing, but it had been recognized by other state and federal courts.  Frigo alleged that the hospital was negligent in allowing Dr. Paul Kirchner to operate on her because he did not meet the requirements to perform such a procedure outlined in the hospital’s bylaws.

The case also addressed the “relation back” doctrine, with the hospital arguing that the addition of the credentialing claim was barred by the statute of limitations.  A majority of the appeals court found, however, that the allegation sufficiently related to her original timely negligence complaint against the hospital. 

The Supreme Court case is Jean Frigo v. Silver Cross Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers, No. 105571.

The Frigo case was mentioned along with several others in the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision Friday in Porter v. Decatur Memorial Hospital, 10441.  There, the high court established new guidelines for determining whether a new count sufficiently relates back to a timely complaint.  The high court did not comment on the merits of prior interpretations of the doctrine, preferring instead to provide guidance to courts going forward.

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