June 17, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Retrospective Application of Statute Abrogates Hospitals’ Credentialing Immunity

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its decision in Hickman v. Catholic Health Initiatives on Thursday, August 29, 2013.

Immunity—Credentialing—CRS § 12-36.5-203(2)—Retroactive Application.

In this interlocutory appeal under CAR 4.2, defendant Catholic Health Initiatives, doing business as St. Anthony Hospital (hospital), appealed the trial court’s order denying the hospital’s assertion of immunity. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

In 2011, Kathleen Hickman sustained a knee injury. She sought treatment from a physician who was credentialed to practice as a vascular surgeon at the hospital. Allegedly as a result of the physician’s failure to diagnose and treat a circulatory problem, Hickman’s leg was amputated on November 18, 2011. Hickman and her husband sued the hospital and the physician on January 23, 2013 for negligent credentialing.

The hospital asserted that the current statute does not apply because the credentialing decision and injury at issue occurred before the statute’s effective date, although the action was filed after that date. Since 1989, Colorado hospitals have been statutorily immune from damages in any civil action brought against them with respect to peer review proceedings. CRS § 12-36.5-203(2) (current statute) abrogated this immunity as to credentialing decisions, effective July 1, 2012. The plain language shows that the General Assembly clearly intended the current statute to apply retroactively. Because such application is not unconstitutionally retrospective and the current statute applied to this matter, the trial court correctly rejected the hospital’s assertion of immunity.

Summary and full case available here.

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