In our last post, we began looking at an out-of-state case which is being appealed to the Supreme Court involving the issue of medical peer review privilege, and whether there should be an exception to the privilege when physicians and hospitals are found to have engaged in fraud. The case is interesting because of the issues it raises with regard to hospitals’ liability for physician negligence.
Ohio, like South Dakota, also recognizes medical peer review privilege. Under the law, a peer review committee’s proceedings and records are confidential and not subject to discovery in litigation, nor may they be admitted in civil cases against a health care facility or provider. The privilege also applies to accountable care organizations, hospitals groups owned and managed by single entities, and combinations of health care entities.
Ohio’s medical review privilege law does provide an exception to the privilege in peer review committees responsible for reviewing the professional qualifications and performance of providers in certain workers’ compensation cases where a criminal violation has occurred or where a civil or administrative action has been initiated by the bureau of workers’ compensation. Obviously medical review privilege can make it more difficult for plaintiffs to obtain evidence that a hospital was aware of problems with a physician’s performance, but a skilled attorney may be able to find other ways to access the information.
Another issue in the South Dakota case mentioned last time is negligent credentialing. The hospitals where the surgeon in that case worked are also being sued for negligent credentialing, a tort action targeting a health care facility’s failure to do due diligence looking into a physician’s background and performance before granting the physician privileges to practice. In our next post, we’ll take a brief look at the issue and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney to hold hospitals accountable for their role in allowing negligent physicians to harm patients.