Peer Review Statute Analyzed

The Tennessee Peer Review Law of 1967 was “was passed with the stated intent of encouraging ‘committees made up of Tennessee’s licensed physicians to candidly, conscientiously, and objectively evaluate and review their peers’ professional conduct, competence, and ability to practice medicine.’ The statute further ‘recognizes that confidentiality is essential both to effective functioning of these peer review committees and to continued improvement in the care and treatment of patients.’ Tenn. Code Ann. ㋔ 63-6-219(b)(1). To this end, the statute creates a privilege for certain documents, etc., which are generated or provided during the peer review process.”

Dr. Moore was summarily suspended from his staff privileges in a Chattanooga hospital and sought information from his creditionals file. The hospital refused to provide it, citing the Peer Review Law. The case went to the Eastern Section of our Court of Appeals and the appellate court remanded to case to the trial judge for further action in consideration of the opinion.

Specifically, the appellate court found even though the creditionals file was covered under the Peer Review Law the wording of the statute itself said that “[n]othing contained in this subsection (e) applies to records made in the regular course of business by a hospital or other provider of health care and information, documents or records otherwise available from original sources are not to be construed as immune from discovery or use in any civil proceedings merely because they were presented during proceedings of such committee.”

Thus, on remand, the trial judge was “instructed to determine which, if any, of the documents sought by Plaintiff were generated in the Hospital Authority’s ‘regular course of business,’ keeping in mind that phrase does not include the peer review process itself. The Trial Court also shall determine which part, if any, of Dr. Monroe’s credentialing information sought by Plaintiff is ‘otherwise available from original sources’ and order the Hospital Authority to divulge that information.”

Read the entire opinion here.

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