The Problem with the Peer Review Protection Act
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Oct 31, 2016
The Peer Review Protection Act, or PRPA, is a law that prohibits the disclosure of certain information that is obtained or revealed during a peer review of a professional healthcare provider. The act was surely passed with good intent, with the thought that by preventing disclosure to the pubic, doctors could talk openly to their peers without fear of repercussions, and therefore the desire to withhold certain information.
However, the PRPA and its confidentiality provision can be costly for families and individuals who are the victims of acts of medical malpractice, as the act prevents internal records from being disclosed in malpractice litigation, often hiding the truth for victims and families.
What Is Peer Review?
Peer review refers to the process by which healthcare standards, or the acts of a healthcare professional, are evaluated by a review committee, to determine whether or not the practices are within the scope of medical standards, laws, and regulations. Under the PRPA, information pertinent to a peer review is protected from disclosure in the event that the committee conducting the review is doing so with the purpose of:
- Improving or/and evaluating the quality of care;
- Reducing mortality;
- Enforcing guidelines design to keep healthcare costs reasonable;
- Reviewing professional qualifications of medical professionals, medical staff, or potential applicants; or
- Reviewing the operation of any healthcare facility, such as a hospital or nursing home.
It is important to note that the language of the PRPA not only protects individual healthcare providers, but also the establishments themselves; all parties involved are protected from civil or criminal liability. Those documents protected from disclosure under the PRPA include incident reports, patient safety reports, and quality assurance forms.
The Problem with the PRPA
As mentioned above, while the PRPA was designed so that healthcare professionals could have open dialogue amongst themselves with the intent to mitigate or resolve areas of insufficiently and lack of proper care, the PRPA shields healthcare providers and organizations from liability and hides valuable information about medical malpractice from individuals.
Patients in Pennsylvania – and every other state in the nation – deserve to know who is treating them, that person’s history, and of any incidents of malpractice on the part of the physician or the facility. Patient safety reports, incident reports, and quality assurance forms should all be public information, and should, at the very least, be available for those who are involved in medical malpractice suits after they have suffered harm at the hands of a medical professional.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Philadelphia
At the law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. our medical malpractice professionals can help you to understand the PRPA and how it related to your claim, as well as other sources of evidence critical for proving malpractice and holding a healthcare professional liable for damages. To begin the process of seeking the justice you deserve, contact us today for a free case consultation.