Recently a ruling was made that a Colorado peer review privilege statute does not apply to documents generated by a hospital's credentialing committee and sought by a physician alleging he was wrongfully terminated (Ryskin v. Banner Health Inc., D. Colo., No. 09-cv-1864, 7/9/10).
The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado said the state law did not bar Dr. Michael Ryskin from seeking documents from the Sterling Regional MedCenter credentialing committee because he provided sufficient allegations that the hospital failed to follow provisions of professional review and fair hearing plans that guaranteed him certain due process rights in the event of adverse actions affecting medical staff privileges.
Of greater importance, the court said, was the fact that the hospital did not appear to have followed its applicable practices for professional review and credentialing activities in Ryskin's case. Because compliance with the statutory procedural requirements is a prerequisite to asserting the privileges, they were not available.
Although the hospital argued that Ryskin may have been entitled to some due process rights if the credentialing committee had made an adverse recommendation against his medical privileges, and although it also argued that no adverse determination was ever made, the court rejected those arguments
The court concluded that, while the state law privileges are designed primarily to shield peer review materials from production in medical malpractice cases, Ryskin's action was not concerned with quality of care issues but was, rather, focused on determining the motives behind his termination.
In a conclusive decision from the court: “Plaintiff seeks not the conclusions of the relevant committees, but their motives. To shield the documents in this lawsuit would be to frustrate the search for truth."
Source: BNA's Health Care Daily 7/19/2010: Federal Court Says Credentialing Documents
Not Covered by Colorado Statutory Privilege