Does your hospital’s credentialing office feel neglected by the HHS Office of Inspector General? Do they feel like the Maytag repair man? If so, tell them to cheer up. In its 2014 Work Plan, the OIG puts “Oversight of Hospital Privileging” squarely in its sights.

The plan, released January 31, states that the OIG intends to determine “how hospitals assess medical staff candidates prior to initial privileges.” The point of the focus is to assure quality of care and patient safety. The plan explicitly notes that responsibility for assuring proper credentialing lies with “the governing body” of the hospital.

One feature of this entry is both surprising and welcome: the focus is limited to assessments of physicians “prior to granting initial privileges [emphasis added].” This is surprising because in recent years The Joint Commission has made “Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation” one of its primary areas of scrutiny. It’s welcome because, from a practical and political point of view, ongoing evaluation of physicians already on staff can be much more difficult than the initial assessment.