Many Berks County folks are probably all too familiar with the performance review process, where their bosses describe their performance for the year and provide feedback and numerical ratings about how they did their jobs. Did you know that a lot of doctors have performance reviews as well? A recent case at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt with the confidentiality of this information and whether plaintiffs can access it to aid their medical malpractice cases.
Pennsylvania state law provides protections for doctor performance reviews when they are performed by professional health care providers. This is to encourage candid feedback to help doctors improve their performance. The case before the court involved a performance review performed by a contractor that provides emergency medical services to hospitals and other health care facilities. Is this kind of organization a professional health care provider, thus protecting the performance review from the prying eyes of a plaintiff seeking to sue a doctor for alleged medical malpractice?
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the contractor in question is not a professional health care provider. They also ruled that because they are not a professional health care provider, the protection should not apply. This means that the plaintiff will be able to access the information in the performance review in order to build a case of medical malpractice against the doctor in question.
A lot of doctors and hospitals are probably not happy with this ruling, but it may be good news for patients seeking to sue their doctors for the injuries they suffered because of the doctor's negligence. If a provider kept a doctor on staff after learning that the doctor had problems, the provider may be on the hook financially for the damages caused by the doctor's negligence.