Medical Staff Involved in Peer Reviewers Can Receive Compensatory and Punitive Damages for Violations of their Confidentiality: Part 1 of 2
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law and Shelby Root
An important decision was delivered by the Supreme Court of New Mexico involving peer reviewers’ statutory right to confidentiality. In the decision, the New Mexico court allowed peer reviewers to recover compensatory and punitive damages resulting from confidentiality violations. The court recognized that peer reviewers are members of the class protected by the peer review statute in New Mexico. Thus, the court stated, they deserve remedies for violations of their confidentiality right. To view the New Mexico Peer Review Statute, click here.
Yedidag v. Roswell Clinic Corp., the New Mexico Case.
Dr. Emre Yedidag was an employee of Roswell Clinic Corp. and Roswell Hospital Corp. During a peer review of another employee, Dr. Akbar Ali, Dr. Yedidag allegedly “verbally attacked” Dr. Ali when he questioned the physicians’ involvement in a patient’s death. The hospital subsequently terminated Dr. Yedidag’s employment for “unprofessional conduct.” In response, Dr. Yedidag filed a complaint against the hospital for utilizing confidential peer review information to support his termination.
The Supreme Court of New Mexico did not agree with the hospital’s argument that the physician’s unprofessional conduct justified the doctor’s termination. The court held that the doctor’s questions were privileged, even if they were “uncivilized.” Also, the court ruled, the hospital may not use information from a peer review proceeding as a reason to terminate his employment. The court upheld an award to Dr. Yedidag of his compensatory and punitive damages. To read the case in its entirety, click here.
The New Mexico Supreme Court Estimated that the Peer Review Statute is too Lenient.
The Supreme Court of New Mexico also estimated that the criminal penalty imposed by the New Mexico peer review statute was “too lenient” to discourage violators. Therefore, allowing peer reviewers to sue violators will result in greater deterrence, the court ruled. The court held that peer reviewers’ confidentiality is a “mandatory rule of law incorporated into physician-reviewer employment contracts.”
What are your thoughts on the Supreme Court of New Mexico’s ruling of compensatory and punitive damages for peer review violations? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
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Stein, Alex. “Doctors Conducting Peer Review Can Recover Compensatory and Punitive Damages for Confidentiality Violations.” (February 21, 2015). From:
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. Shelby Root is a summer associate at The Health Law Firm. She is a student at Barry University College of Law in Orlando.
Keywords: Yedidag v. Roswell Clinic Corporation, peer review, defense attorney, defense counsel, defense lawyer, medical staff attorney, fair hearing attorney, peer review fair hearing, clinical privileges attorney, hospital clinical privileges, confidentiality right, compensatory damages, punitive damages, New Mexico peer review statute, healthcare law, healthcare attorney, healthcare lawyer, The Health Law Firm
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