The Daily

Peer Review

In January of 2005, a local court granted a Motion to Compel against a Hospital and its physicians – ordering them to produce discovery responses to written questions (interrogatories) and requests for documents (requests for production). Orders like this are routine – they are entered every day in all kinds of cases. 

What made this order remarkable was the subject matter of the questions and responses: Hospital peer review. 

The legislature and courts have been uniform in their desire to allow Hospitals and physicians to “police themselves”. When adverse medical incidents occur in a hospital setting, they are supposed to be the subject of intensive and rigorous medical peer review proceedings designed to prevent reoccurrence. To encourage frank and honest reporting during peer review, the proceedings are afforded strict confidentiality.  

It is very rare that a consumer or Plaintiff is given a look inside any Hospital’s peer review process. But that is exactly what happened in January of 2005, when the Court ordered Lee Memorial to produce all of its peer review documents about the death of my client – Mildred Thomas – in their recovery room. Reviewing all of the sworn testimony taken in the cause, together with the Code 15 report released by Hospital personnel, the Court accepted our argument by finding that Lee Memorial had waived their peer review privilege. Shortly afterward, we took possession of the peer review records.

Not only did we get the Hospital’s peer review – I also forced production of the sentinel event investigation performed by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals against the license of the Hospital. At the time, there were no cases identified where a Plaintiff’s lawyer had obtained access to incident reporting and sentinel event investigations concerning an adverse event. 

Dogged, tireless and thoughtful pursuit, like our work in the landmark case of Charles v. Baptist in Florida’s Supreme Court (reported on here on this blog over the last few months – in which the Court ruled that Hospitals must comply with Amendment 7 by sharing with the public information about adverse medical events despite their argument that Federal law made that information secret “peer review”), is the reason I practice law. 

I am proud to uphold my Family’s tradition of honor and integrity in the pursuit of the truth – wherever that pursuit takes us.