They call Missouri the “Show Me State,” but perhaps that name is better suited for Florida. Amendment 7—otherwise known as the Patient Right to Know about Adverse Medical Incidents Act—makes what would normally be considered protected peer review information discoverable to the public.
Many states have taken strides to protect peer review documentation from discoverability in an effort to promote thorough and candid peer review and encourage physicians to report near misses. Thus, if Dr. Smith makes a mistake that results in a near miss and subsequently works with the medical staff’s peer review committee to improve his performance, he doesn’t have to worry about a lawyer digging up and using the documentation of those efforts against him in the future.
However, Florida voters passed Amendment 7 in 2004 under the belief that they have the right to know if a physician is or has been involved in any type of adverse medical event. In the Sunshine State, a patient or plaintiff’s lawyer can subpoena peer review documentation regarding any physician for any reason—no holds barred.
In theory, it makes sense for patients to have the right to know if their physician has been involved in an adverse event, but Amendment 7 has caused physicians and medical staffs in hospitals to stifle peer review—the primary function of the medical staff.