Health Law

Doctor Allowed Shielded Records

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A federal appeals court ruling last week permits a physician claiming discrimination to access hospital peer review files, despite a state law shielding them from disclosure.

The plaintiff, Russell Adkins, claims his work was improperly scrutinized by Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, Ga., according to the Fulton County Daily Report. He sought peer review documents for all the physicians at the hospital for the seven years he worked there.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Atlanta ruled that the physician’s interest in obtaining the records outweighs reasons supporting the privilege.

“We are confronted with a claim of racial discrimination within the peer review process itself, implicating the important societal goal of eliminating employment discrimination,” the court wrote.

Paul Koster, a lawyer for the hospital, told the legal newspaper the decision undermines the peer review process.

The opinion is Adkins v. Christie, No. 06-13107 (PDF).

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