Improving Health Through Medical Physics


Richard Martin, JD | Alexandria, VA

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 43 No. 5 — September | October 2018

Judicial Decisions Impact Patient Safety Work Product Protections

Two recent judicial decisions address Patient Safety Work Product (PSWP) protections under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA). The PSQIA spurred development of the AAPM/ASTRO Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System (RO-ILS) and other incident learning systems to facilitate safer and higher quality care. Interpretation of the PSWP protections under the act continue to evolve on a state-by-state basis through judicial decisions.

In Daley v. Ingalls Memorial Hospital, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, Fourth Division, reversed the trial court's ruling against the hospital that claimed privilege under the PSQIA. The plaintiff argued that the documents were discoverable under "Illinois broad discovery rules." In rejecting the plaintiff's argument and upholding the hospital's claim of privilege protection under the PSQIA, the appellate court stated that the documents at issue "are an amalgamation of data, reports, discussions, and reflections, the very type of information that is by definition patient safety work product."

In Tampa General Hospital v. Azar, the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, denied the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' motion to dismiss a suit brought by a hospital seeking declaratory judgment on privilege protection for information reported to its patient safety organization (PSO). The district court's ruling allows the hospital's declaratory judgment action to proceed and provides an opportunity for the court to interpret the PSQIA and its interplay with existing Florida law, including Amendment 7 of the Florida Constitution — "Patient's Right to Know" law — as well as the Florida Supreme Court's prior decisions on this issue.

We will keep you updated on further developments impacting PSWP. If you have any questions or would like additional information on this issue, please contact Richard Martin, JD, AAPM Government Relations Program Manager.

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