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Partner Michael Callahan Quoted on Privilege Issues Surrounding Patient Safety Activities

Firm News | December 1, 2015

Health Care partner Michael Callahan was quoted throughout a Credentialing & Peer Review Legal Insider article about the scope of federal privilege protections afforded to hospitals and other licensed health care providers for patient safety activities and related reports, studies and analyses. There is a pending case before the US Supreme Court that has attracted national attention involving the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, which makes privileged and confidential patient safety information when collected and provided to a federally certificate patient safety organization. He speculated that the US Supreme Court's decision on whether or not the hear the case, Tibbs v. Bunnell, will be made no later than January. Tibbs involves an appeal from a Kentucky Supreme Court decision that gave a very narrow interpretation of what documents could be protected. Organizations such as the AHA, AMA and many other trade associations, PSOs and major health care systems filed amicus briefs to support the University of Kentucky's challenge of the decision. Michael stated, "I think the conflict between a state court's clear misinterpretation of a federal law designed by Congress to apply to all license providers around the country has made it a more interesting case for the Supreme Court to consider."

If the court hears the case, a decision would likely come by summer 2016, leaving hospital providers only five to six months to join a patient safety organization (PSO) by the deadline set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Michael stated, "There are still a lot of questions on how to operationalize PSOs in order to obtain the maximum benefit, especially when there is not a lot of case law out there to give direction." Michael prepared one of the amicus briefs being considered by the Court. ("Patient Safety Work Product Privilege at Center of Possible Supreme Court Case," December 2015).

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