Monday, October 28, 2013

Judge Wettick Precludes Discovery of Documents Under Peer Review Protection Act

In his recent decision in the case of Scrima v. UPMC Mercy, PICS Case No. 13-2704 (C.P. Allegheny Co. Sept. 9, 2013 Wettick, J.), Judge R. Stanton Wettick ruled that the documents Plaintiff sought to discover which documents were prepared for purposes of reviewing the quality of medical services that were provided by a Defendant hospital were protected by the Pennsylvania Peer Review Protection Act (Pa. P.R.P.A.), 63 P.S. §425.1-425.4 and, therefore, not discoverable. 

Judge R. Stanton Wettick
Judge Wettick noted that, under the Pa.P.R.P.A., records and proceedings of a review committee established for the purpose of reviewing information related to the evaluation and improvement of patient care are considered confidential.  

However, documents or records that are otherwise available from other original sources are not to be construed as protected from discovery or for use in any civil action merely because they were presented during proceedings held by such a committee (known as the "original sources" exception).

After reviewing the record before him, Judge Wettick found that the original sources exception of the Rule did not apply.   Accordingly, the court ultimately ruled that the Plaintiffs remained free to examine the hospital staff concerning their knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the Plaintiff’s injuries, but that the Plaintiffs were precluded from inquiring about conclusions or recommendations resulting from the investigation into the matter. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may contact the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly at 1-800-276-7427 and pay a small fee for a copy.  

Source:  Pennsylvania Law Weekly “Digest of Recent Opinions (October 1, 2013).   

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