A July court settlement regarding California's Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC) marks a resounding win for medical staff self-governance. The settlement reinstates—with all of its rights, privileges and status—the organized medical staff that was fired and replaced, and the hospital has agreed to pay $300,000 for the TRMC medical staff's legal expenses.
In collaboration with the California Medical Association (CMA), the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies has provided significant legal and financial support in the California medical staff's lawsuit, Tulare Regional Medical Center Medical Staff v. Tulare Local Healthcare District et al. CMA filed pre- and post-trial amicus briefs and organized fundraising for the case.
The suit was filed after the hospital's board of directors voted Jan. 26, 2016, to terminate the medical staff organization, remove elected medical staff officers, install a slate of appointed officers and approve new medical staff bylaws and rules without staff input.
Too often, voluntarily created and submitted reports meant to be used for analysis and prevention of adverse events are used instead as roadmaps for litigation.
That was the message delivered in an amicus brief filed by the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies, the Illinois State Medical Society, and other organizations in the case Daley v. Teruel and Ingalls Memorial Hospital, which involves protection of peer-review reports from litigation discovery.
The brief also warned that, if the First District Illinois Appellate Court upheld a trial court's order for Ingalls Memorial to turn over its patient safety reports, it would "send a message to Illinois hospitals that they should not voluntarily document their self-examination of an adverse situation for the purpose of improving health care."
The judges agreed. In its June 28 decision, the court ruled that—under the federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA)—the hospital's incident reports, which were submitted to a third-party patient safety organization (PSO) via a computer portal specifically dedicated for that purpose, were shielded from discovery.
PSOs were created by PSQIA to aggregate data from multiple sources and identify causes of adverse events, issue safety alerts, promote best practices and provide feedback that has helped to reduce adverse events and errors and improve medication safety.