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Ohio Appeals Court Finds Hospital Does Not Have To Produce List Of Peer Review Documents

 
 

HLD, v. 33, n. 5 (May 2005)

Ohio Appeals Court Finds Hospital Does Not Have To Produce List Of Peer Review Documents

Aurelia Huntsman had surgery at Aultman Hospital to repair a diaphragmatic hernia. Dr. Sajid Chugtai performed the surgery and Huntsman died the next day. Ruth Huntsman, the Adminstratrix of Aurelia's estate brought suit against the hospital, Chugtai, and Sajid Chugtai, M.D., Inc. (defendants) claiming medical malpractice and negligent credentialing and submitted a request for production of documents. Huntsman moved for the production of the hospital's credentialing file and the trial court granted an in camera inspection of some of the documents. The trial court initially ordered the hospital to produce some documents, but then sustained the hospital's objection to the production. However, the court eventually ordered the hospital to provide plaintiff with a list identifying the documents that had initially been identified as discoverable. Defendants appealed.

          The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed. As a threshold matter, the appeals court first turned to the issue of which version of the peer review statute should be applicable to the case because the statute had been revised while the case was in the lower court. The appeals court found that because the statute was revised while the case was pending, before the actual trial date of the case, the revised statute should be applied.

          The appeals court next turned to whether the trial court erred in ordering the hospital to produce a list identifying the documents. The revised statute provides that proceedings before a peer review committee "shall be held in confidence and shall not be subject to discovery or introduction in evidence . . . but the information, documents, or records are available only from the original sources and cannot be obtained from the peer review committee's proceedings or records . . . ."

The trial court's order clearly violates the intent of the statute, the appeals court said. The order would allow the plaintiff to discover what documents were before the peer review committee, but the statute "makes all information regarding such documents privileged," said the appeals court.

Therefore, the appeals court reversed the trial court's order for the hospital to produce a list identifying peer review documents.

Huntsman v. Aultman Hosp., Nos. 2004CA00124, 2004CA00142 (Ohio Ct. App. Mar. 28, 2005). To read the case, go to http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/5/2005/2005-ohio-1482.pdf

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