Create an allied health credentials committee

The number of nonphysician practitioners credentialed by hospitals and health systems is growing exponentially. Some observers estimate that more than 300,000 clinicians nationwide fit this description. A variety of labels are used to characterize these caregivers, including allied health practitioners, midlevel providers, and advanced practice professionals. Within the ranks of these providers are NPs, PAs, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, registered nurse first assistants for surgical procedures, and an expanding group of other caregivers.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that those practitioners who provide a “medical level of service” or “conduct surgical procedures either directly or under supervision” must be formally privileged. In general, it is wise to use the same policies and procedures to credential and privilege all practitioners, regardless of their specific discipline. Even so, there may be several practical, but minor, deviations in procedure for non-physician practitioners. For example, a hospital may establish an allied health credentials subcommittee instead of relying on the full medical staff credentials committee to review applications from nonphysician practitioners.

Fashioning a dedicated committee (or subcommittee) to evaluate the credentials of nonphysician practitioners allows multiple initial review committees to share the workload of assessing applications. The composition of such committees can include a large number of individuals with expertise in nonphysician clinical roles, including the following:

  • APRNs
  • Midwives
  • CRNAs
  • PAs

Since the education, training, and practice of nonphysician practitioners is very different from that of doctors, it is especially helpful to have a credentials committee with this type of expertise represented. An allied health credentials committee should enforce the same rigor for applicant review as the full medical staff credentials committee does. Creating two different processes for credentialing can lead to inadequate scrutiny of nonphysician practitioners. Unfortunately, the hospital can be found just as liable for negligent credentialing of nonphysician practitioners as it can be for doctors.

Source: Negligent Credentialing