In Babb v. Centre Community Hospital Geisinger Clinic, and Penn State Geisinger Health System, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania refused to grant the Defendant’s immunity pursuant to the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA).
The standard HCQIA analysis was applied by the Court. Dr. Babb alleged the defendants were biased and motivated by something other than quality health care when they investigated his quality of care and terminated his employment.
The significance of this case is that the Court concluded that Dr. Babb had submitted sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of immunity by asserting the hospital had not performed a reasonable investigation and its decision was not based upon a reasonable belief that its actions were in furtherance of patient care, because there was insufficient evidence to conclude Dr. Babb’s patient care was flawed.
The evidence that was presented to the Court was presented by a medical expert, who thoroughly reviewed the patient charts and medical records involved in the matter, and attorney Charles Artz, a preeminent health care lawyer from Central Pennsylvania, who opined the investigation was fundamentally flawed.
Heretofore, many Courts simply concluded that if there was any evidence to support the termination of medical staff membership or clinical privileges, then the actors involved in the peer review process were entitled to immunity regardless. Many of those decisions cite the Manzetti case and the Singh case which stand for the proposition that the personal motivation of the reviewer is irrelevant as long as the evidence is appropriate and physicians are not promised “perfect investigations.” This case at least suggests that must be some level of credible evidence to support those decisions.