PA-ACP Advocacy Goes to Court for its Members

The PA-ACP has joined as a party to an amicus brief in a case before the State Superior Court in Gill v. the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to protect its members and the privileged nature of all peer review processes and findings.

Larry Jones, MD, FACP, president of PA-ACP Services, Inc. said “In Gill v. CHOP,” he said, “the decision of a Philadelphia Court could have chilling effects on discovery and peer reviews, and the ruling flies in the face of law and judicial precedent.  PA-ACP’s leadership felt it had an obligation to get directly engaged in filings with the Courts to protect its members and patient safety.”

Dr. Jones said PA-ACP’s advocacy goes beyond grass roots, regulations and legislation, and reaffirmed that the Chapter will take action on behalf of its members to solve problems and protect medical practices, no matter what the forum.

In this case, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas  has ruled that virtually all the underlying documents associated with CHOP's internal patient safety investigation were discoverable in three different medical malpractice lawsuits, despite the fact that the documents themselves were generated during the peer review process and had never been published.

This was five years after CHOP conducted an intensive patient safety investigation to determine the cause of an adenovirus outbreak in its NICU. As a result of the investigation, a potential link between adenovirus and non-contact ophthalmologic equipment became apparent, and the physician community was alerted about the findings.

The decision is particularly onerous in itself, and the state Supreme Court as recently as August in Leadbitter v. Keystone Anesthesia Consultants, Ltd., held that the proceedings and records of any committee that performs a peer review function are privileged and not discoverable under the state’s Peer Review Protection Act.

In the Leadbitter case, the court looked at the discoverability of peer review materials that were held by a credentialing committee.  It ruled that “[A] committee which performs a peer-review function, although it may not be specifically entitled a "peer review committee," constitutes a review committee whose proceedings and records are protected under Section 4 of the act.”

Other medical organizations joining in the amicus brief include the PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society, the PA Medical Society and the American Medical Association.