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Larson v. Wasemiller

Supreme Court of Minnesota
738 N.W.2d 300 (2007)


Facts

In April 2002, Mary Larson (plaintiff) underwent a gastric bypass operation performed by Dr. James Wasemiller (defendant) and Dr. Paul Wasemiller (defendant). After the procedure, Larson experienced complications and Paul Wasemiller performed a second operation to correct the problems. After the second operation, Larson required emergency surgery and was hospitalized for nearly two months. Larson brought suit against the physicians and St. Francis Medical Center (defendant), arguing that the hospital was negligent in granting surgery privileges to James Wasemiller. Credentialing decisions are made by a hospital’s governing body to determine which physicians are granted hospital privileges and what specific procedures they may perform. The granting of privileges does not create an employment relationship, but instead allows physicians access to the hospital’s facilities and equipment. St. Francis filed a motion to dismiss Larson’s complaint. The district court denied the motion and noted that many other jurisdictions recognized a duty by hospitals to exercise reasonable care in making credentialing decisions. However, the district court certified two questions for the court of appeals: whether Minnesota recognized a common law cause of action against a hospital for negligent credentialing and whether state law limits or immunes a hospital from liability for a claim of negligent credentialing. The court of appeals held that no cause of action for negligent credentialing existed in Minnesota and that, while there was no immunity for a hospital making certain decisions, liability was limited to actions or recommendations not reasonably decided after reasonable inquiry into the pertinent facts of the decision. The court of appeals dismissed Larson’s case. Larson appealed.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hanson, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence (Anderson, J.)

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