PA 08-42—sHB 5630
Public Health Committee
AN ACT PROMOTING CONSISTENCY AMONG PEER REVIEW PROCEEDINGS
SUMMARY: This act applies confidentiality and immunity provisions of the medical peer review and public health record laws to the operations of the Department of Developmental Services' (DDS) mortality review teams and the Independent Mortality Review Board (IMRB). The DDS teams are composed of regional department staff who review all client deaths and develop corrective action plans, where appropriate. The DDS commissioner must report to the review board any death in which (1) the DDS teams raise questions about the client's care, (2) abuse or neglect has been alleged, (3) the Office of Chief Medical Examiner has accepted jurisdiction, (4) an autopsy was performed, or (5) the death was unexpected. The board, which was established by executive order, must investigate each report.
The act also changes the names of (1) the council that advises DDS and (2) the department's regions, to reflect the department's 2007 name change from the Department of Mental Retardation.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008
The act extends to DDS terms and the IMRB confidentiality provisions that apply to Public Health Department (DPH) records. By law, all information, interview records, written reports, statements, notes, memoranda, or other data (including personal data) the DPH or DPH-licensed facilities obtain in connection with morbidity and mortality studies is confidential. It can be used only for medical or scientific research and can be disclosed only for purposes of the project to which it relates. DPH can disclose personal data for medical or scientific research to other government agencies and private research organizations as long as they do not further disclose it. The information is not admissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative action (CGS § 19a-25).
Peer review is a process for health care professionals to evaluate the quality and efficiency of the services another health care professional performs or orders. A peer review committee's proceedings are not subject to discovery and cannot be introduced into evidence in a civil action for or against a health care provider that arises from the matters the committee reviewed. No one who attended a committee meeting can be allowed or required to testify in such an action about what occurred during the meeting. But the law permits in any civil action:
1. a person testifying about his or her personal knowledge of why the peer review was instituted, as long as this knowledge was acquired independently of the peer review process;
2. the use of any writing recorded independently of the peer review; or
3. disclosure of the fact that staff privileges were terminated or restricted, including the specific restriction.
The law also permits the use of data developed during a peer review in any proceeding concerning termination or restriction of staff privileges.
Public Health Records
An individual, hospital, rest home, nursing home, or other agency that provides information to DPH, its representative, or any other agency cooperating in a morbidity, mortality, or other research project is not subject to any action for damages or other relief because of its disclosure.
Anyone who testifies before or provides information, various documents, or conclusions to a hospital, hospital medical staff, professional society, medical or dental school, professional licensing board, or peer review committee that is intended to help evaluate a health care professional's qualifications, fitness, or character is not subject to monetary liability or any cause of action for damages as long as the person does not represent as true something he or she does not reasonably believe to be true.
A member of a peer review committee is not subject to monetary liability or any cause of action for damages for any act or proceeding that is within the committee's scope, as long as the individual acted without malice and in reasonable belief that his or her action was warranted.
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