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Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Review Scope of Peer Review Protection Act

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted a petition for allowance of appeal on July 7 to take up the question of whether peer reviewed documents prepared by a health care facility’s third-party contractor are privileged under the Peer Review Protection Act (PRPA). Reginelli v. Boggs, No. 1584 WDA 2014 (Pa. Super. Ct., Oct. 23, 2015).

PRPA is a statute that incentivizes healthcare professionals to police themselves by making both the proceedings and records of a peer review committee confidential in any civil action. The goal of the statute would be to invoke honest and critical evaluations of decisions of medical professionals by their peers, and improve the quality of medical care.

The lawsuit, Reginelli v. Boggs, involves a negligence suit against Monongahela Valley Hospital Inc., and Dr. Marcellus Boggs. Boggs, although a physician in the hospital’s emergency room, was actually an employee of an independent contractor. When plaintiffs moved to compel discovery of peer review documents prepared by Boggs’ supervisor, questions regarding privilege arose. The Washington County Court of Common Pleas ruled that the documents were not privileged, and The Superior Court upheld the ruling. The Superior Court stated:

“The hospital therefore cannot claim that the file is the hospital’s privileged peer review, since, as the trial court noted, ‘it is untenable that the hospital could claim a privilege for documents that it neither generated nor maintained.’ Thus, any privilege that may exist regarding Dr. Boggs’ performance file cannot be invoked by the hospital.”

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