PAMED Joins with the AMA to File Amicus Brief in Peer Review Case

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2020

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) and the American Medical Association (AMA) filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of St. Clair Hospital to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Leadbitter v. Keystone Anesthesia Consultants, LTD., et al. This case involves an appeal by St. Clair Hospital (Hospital) from a Superior Court decision affirming a trial court order requiring the Hospital to produce the credentialing and privileging file of its on-staff physician, Dr. Carmen Petraglia. The file was created when Dr. Petraglia applied for orthopedic surgery clinical privileges and sought appointment to the Hospital’s medical staff. Included in Dr. Petraglia’s file were a “Professional Peer Review Reference and Competency Evaluation,” completed by other physicians, as well as an “Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation of St. Clair Hospital Summary Report,” containing various data on Dr. Petraglia’s performance.

During discovery, Plaintiffs moved to compel the Hospital’s production of Dr. Petraglia’s entire credentialing file, claiming that they were entitled to this information based on this Court’s decision in Reginelli v. Boggs, 181 A.3d 293 (Pa. 2018). The trial court ordered the Hospital to turn over this information, holding that the Peer Review Protection Act does not protect professional opinions and evaluations obtained by the Hospital’s credentialing committee and that responses made to the National Practitioner Data Bank are not protected from discovery by federal law. The Superior Court affirmed this decision, holding that Reginelli requires disclosure of peer review material created by a “review organization,” even where the documents in question are “peer review” documents. The Superior Court expressed serious reservations about its holding, however. Recognizing that the documents in Dr. Petraglia’s credentialing file were clearly “peer review” in nature, the Superior Court asked the Supreme Court for guidance. The Supreme Court agreed to take the case.

PAMED and the AMA filed an amicus brief arguing that if this decision were allowed to stand, peer review activities would be severely hampered and practitioners would be hesitant to partake in such activity for fear of their information being used in a lawsuit. Further, PAMED and the AMA argued that federal law generally prohibits the release of information submitted to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

PAMED will continue to monitor this case and provide updates as they occur. You may read the amicus brief here. Information regarding PAMED’s amicus brief activities can be accessed on PAMED’s Legal Resources page here.

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