Jonathan H. Burroughs, MD, MBA, FACPE, FACEP, CMSL, senior consultant with The Greeley Company, suggests that medical staffs in Florida should hire an independent attorney to act as a member of the medical staff peer review committee and keep minutes. The minutes should be sparing. “Don’t write down who said what about whom. Only document that you’ve reviewed the case and what the findings and improvement process are. In other words, you should just document the outcomes, not the discussion.”
The minutes then live with the attorney’s office, rather than with the medical staff, and are therefore protected under attorney/client privilege. It is important that the attorney who is on the peer review committee is not the attorney who regularly represents the medical staff or the attorney who regularly represents the hospital to avoid conflicts of interest.
“Be sure that attorney work product information and documentation is prepared only by your attorneys and the paralegals working directly for them and do not use routine attorney work product documents and information in your peer review activities. Otherwise they may be discoverable,” adds Indest.