20 Jun Will New York Peer Review Privileges Extend to Physician Group Practices?
Medical malpractice peer review programs are essential for upholding the safety and quality of care in the industry. For years, hospital-based malpractice peer review programs have been strongly protected under New York law. But the same protections have not been guaranteed for groups outside of a hospital. Now, this may change.
Physician group practices have grown in popularity, size, and sophistication in recent years and thanks to a new bill (S1801) being introduced to the New York Senate this year, these qualifying groups* are hoping to receive the same confidentiality and immunity protections currently afforded to hospitals.
As part of the current New York Public Health Law, a hospital’s medical peer review privilege safeguards the disclosure of internal peer review results of patient care from discovery and trial in civil litigation. Without this protection, these reviews would arguably not be as candid about actions done right and wrong, for fear of liability in court. In order to improve quality of care and create a safe forum, medical peer review privilege is crucial for the wellbeing of hospitals, and as Bill S1801 argues, qualifying group practices.
Bill S1801 suggests that due to the growth of physician groups, they have a larger responsibility as a whole to “review outcomes and collaborate on improvements as a unified team”, just like a hospital. Therefore, physician groups that operate malpractice prevention programs that meet the same standard as hospital malpractice prevention programs should have the same confidentiality and immunity protections. Otherwise, there is a risk of information being withheld during a peer review process to avoid it being used against a physician in court, thereby doing an ultimate disservice to the overall advancement of patient care.
Should the bill pass, this will give qualifying group practices the same protection as hospitals, and allow for greater objectivity in the medical review process, thereby improving quality of care, while also protecting physicians from liability.
For more information and to follow updates on the bill, click here.
*Per Bill S1801, “qualified group practices” is defined as:
A medical, dental or podiatric group practice or other lawful combination of such health care practitioners, licensed or certified pursuant to title eight of the education law, that meets the standards set forth in paragraphs (a) through (h) of subdivision one of section twenty-eight hundred five-j of this chapter, other than the governing board requirements of such paragraph (a).
Update June 2019: New York legislation did not pass Bill S1801.
Phalanx Healthcare Solutions is a New York based medical malpractice insurance consultant specializing in insurance and reinsurance solutions for physicians, physician organizations, and healthcare systems. For more information, visit our web site at www.phalanxllc.com.