MSPs know that among all their responsibilities, the #1 priority is patient safety. Performing the oftentimes challenging work of credentialing is an essential part of protecting patients and allowing the delivery of high quality health care. Doctors are trusted to care for patients, and it is the job of MSPs to confirm their ability to provide care and that hospitals are aware of any negative incidents that could affect the doctor-patient relationship. Two recent stories underscore just how critical the work of MSPs is.
In Cleveland, USA Today found that a surgeon was accused multiple times of sexually assaulting patients, yet confidential settlements precluded formal charges against him. The Cleveland Clinic, where he was employed, placed him on leave, but did not prevent him from continuing to see patients after a settlement was reached. In fact, when the surgeon later moved to the Ohio State University Medical Center, the facility was unaware of any past allegations regarding the physician. While OSU maintains that the proper credentialing procedure was followed, having official notations of the investigation would have allowed an MSP to determine whether credentials should have been issued in light of the allegations.
Even if the Cleveland Clinic had progressed with formal actions, there was no criminal charge filed. The physician’s record might not have even reflected the settlement, especially if facility itself took on liability, as they often do. If the physician had not disclosed his affiliation with Cleveland Clinic when applying at OSU, or replaced it with another facility where he had privileges, the OSU credentialing department would have had no way of knowing whether he was ever employed at the Clinic, much less whether there had been misconduct.
In an even more recent example, a Maryland-based OB/GYN was found to have falsified his identity, including his Social Security number, to obtain licensure in the state. In fact, over the course of his career, the physician used four different Social Security numbers, three names, and forged dates of birth and education histories to obtain multiple credentials, licenses, and privileges at multiple facilities.
He failed the Foreign Medical Graduate Certification multiple times under different identities before finally passing, and went on to be removed from a residency program in New Jersey for falsifying information and rejected from Medicare for using different Social Security numbers. However, the Maryland facility, Prince George’s Hospital Center, completed the credentialing process for the physician and allowed him to practice medicine for years after the rejection. The intricacies of the fraud demonstrate just how important a thorough and exhaustive credentialing process is.
As all MSPs know, credentialing is an intricate and often winding process. Even the most conscientious MSPs can run into issues of information gaps, whether it is a missing document, an undisclosed affiliation, or any number of other problems that can arise. NAMSS PASS is a free, secure, online database that provides quick and easy access to the affiliation history of practitioners applying for credentials. Through NAMSS PASS, you can automatically review past affiliations for practitioners, disclosed by the hospital, not the physician. This allows you to quickly analyze for any gaps in history, or to identify undisclosed affiliations (a major red flag). In a health care system where patient safety continues to be at risk and must always be a priority, NAMSS PASS can help your facility ensure the highest standard of credentialing is completed. To learn more about NAMSS PASS, please visit http://www.namss.org/NAMSSPASS.aspx.