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Court Rulings Could Squelch Reports of Errors

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 30, 2012

Brian Brezosky, Kentucky Hospital Association general counsel, says that if the rulings, including the addition of the phrase "self-examining analysis," are allowed to stand, such as incident reports on sentinel events filed with the Joint Commission, would not be protected from attorneys' discovery in malpractice cases.

Under the courts rulings definition, that would "not be a group of people (providers) talking about what occurred, and what they need to do in the future to make sure it doesn't happen again.

It's just a report," Brezosky says. "And we think that if a hospital is part of a patient safety organization, "that report in and of itself should be a privileged document. But the Kentucky court has said that's not self-analysis."

Unfortunately, he adds, the federal statute itself doesn't say whether it is or is not, "and therefore that's where the argument lies."

In a statement in its daily briefing Friday, the AHA said that while the lower Kentucky court decisions "recognized that the (Patient Safety Act) preempted state law, they 'failed to apply the Act in the manner as expressed and intended by Congress.' "

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