In its opinion dated February 13, 2020, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania (“Pennsylvania Appellate Court”) held: “Since St. Clair Hospital’s credentialing committee is a committee that reviewed the professional qualifications and activities of Dr. Petraglia following his application for hospital privileges at St. Clair Hospital, the credentialing committee is a review “organization.” Therefore, the PRPA privilege does not apply to the documents that the credentialing committee reviewed.”
Pennsylvania’s Peer Review Protection Act (“PRPA”), 63 P.S. § 425.1, et seq., defines “peer review” as “the procedure for evaluation by professional health care providers of the quality and efficiency of services ordered or performed by other professional health care providers . . . .” In the case the Pennsylvania Appellate Court was deciding, the defendant hospital sought to use the PRPA privilege to prevent disclosure of professional evaluations that its credentialing committee considered before granting Dr. Petraglia surgery privileges at St. Clair Hospital. The Pennsylvania Appellate Court found that since “professional health care providers”—other physicians—prepared those documents and the documents evaluated the “quality and efficiency of services ordered or performed” by Dr. Petraglia, the documents meet the statutory definition of “peer review” documents.
Nonetheless, the evidentiary privilege only applies to the peer review documents of a “review committee” and not to the documents of a “review organization.” PRPA defines a “review committee” as “any committee engaging in peer review” and a “review organization” as “any hospital Board, committee or individual reviewing the professional qualifications or activities of its medical staff or applicants for admission thereto.” PRPA does not shield from disclosure evaluations that a credentialing committee generates.
The Pennsylvania Appellate Court held, “Since St. Clair Hospital’s credentialing committee is a committee that reviewed the professional qualifications and activities of Dr. Petraglia following his application for hospital privileges at St. Clair Hospital, the credentialing committee is a review “organization.” Therefore, the PRPA privilege does not apply to the documents that the credentialing committee reviewed … credentialing review is not “entitled to protection from disclosure under PRPA’s evidentiary privilege [“[r]eview of a physician’s credentials for purposes of membership (or continued membership) on a hospital’s medical staff is markedly different from reviewing the ‘quality and efficiency of service ordered or performed’ by a physician when treating patients.”].”
The Pennsylvania Appellate Court also held: “Pennsylvania law does not protect the professional evaluations of Dr. Petraglia in the file of the credentialing committee. Since the confidentiality provisions of HQIA [Healthcare Quality Improvement Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11101, et seq.] follow state law, HQIA does not preclude the production of the evaluations of Dr. Petraglia.”
Source Leadbitter v. Keystone Anesthesia Consultants, Ltd v. Petraglia, 2020 PA Super 36.
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