In Bansal vs. Mount Carmel Health Systems, Inc., an Ohio state appellate court ruled that the hospital had failed to prove that documents were protected by Ohio’s statutory peer review privilege (Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.25), and reversed a trial court summary judgment decision. Dr. Girraj K. Bansal was removed from the hospital’s call schedule, and then brought suit against the hospital alleging race, color, national origin, and age discrimination in violation of federal civil rights laws, tortious interference with business and contractual relationships, defamation and a violation of his rights under the First Amendment. During discovery, Dr. Bansal requested certain documents, but the hospital asserted the Ohio peer review privilege regarding certain documents. Dr. Bansal filed a motion to compel discovery, and the hospital filed a motion for summary judgment.
Although the hospital asserted the state peer review privilege, the court decided that simply labeling a document as confidential, privileged or peer review was not sufficient to meet the burden of proof imposed by the statute stating, “The health care entity must provide evidence as to the specific documents requested, not generalities regarding the types of documents usually contained in the peer review committee’s records.”
The court stated that a health care entity may attempt to meet this burden by either submitting the documents in question to the trial court for an in camera inspection, or by presenting affidavit or deposition testimony containing the information necessary for the trial court to make an appropriate decision. The health care entity must first establish the existence of a committee that meets the statutory definition of “peer review committee,” and then must establish that each of the documents that it refuses to produce in response to a discovery request are records of that peer review committee.
Category: Peer Review