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Federal Appeals Court reverses lower Court ruling; reaffirms immunity for hospitals and physicians in peer review cases

Federal Appeals Court reverses lower Court ruling; reaffirms immunity for hospitals and physicians in peer review cases

Wmj 107(7): 344-346

Peer review committees in Wisconsin should keep in mind both the Wisconsin peer review immunity statute and HCQIA when structuring their peer review processes. Documenting that actions were taken in good faith is critical. While this is not a consideration under HCQIA, it is under Wisconsin law. Temporary restrictions on a physician's privileges can be appropriate when patient safety requires it; in these circumstances, hospitals should make sure to keep the issue raised by HCQIA's emergency exception. By and large, courts have sided with hospitals in peer review disputes. The physician challenging the peer review action bears the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that no reasonable belief supported the action. While the initial rulings in the Poliner case raised concerns, these rulings were not typical and were ultimately reversed. The recent ruling by the Appeals Court affirms that HCQIA stands on solid ground, provides reassurance to hospitals and physicians engaged in peer review, and advances the goals of Congress by allowing peer review committees to take actions that are in the best interest of patients. At the same time, physicians subject to review retain the right to seek remedies other than money damages and to hold a hospital and its medical staff to a reasonable standard conduct that they can reasonably implement.

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Accession: 053223888

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PMID: 19180875

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