Fifth Circuit Reverses Lower Court Polinet Decision and Reaffirms Broad Immunity for Hospitals and Physicians in Peer Review Cases

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In a case that has been closely watched around the nation for several years, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reaffirmed hospitals? and physician peer reviewers? broad immunities from damages claims under the 1986 Health Care Quality Improvement Act (?HCQIA?). In Poliner v. Texas Health Systems, 2008 WL 2815533 (5th Cir. Jul. 23, 2008), the court overturned a $33 million judgment awarded to the plaintiff, a cardiologist whose cardiac catheterization and echocardiography privileges were summarily suspended following a patient incident at the defendant hospital and a subsequent review of multiple cases. Earlier, a jury had awarded plaintiff a record-breaking sum of $360+ million against both the hospital and individual physician peer reviewers, on plaintiff?s claims of defamation, breach of contract and tortious interference with contract.

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