How Much Protection Does the Peer Review Protection Act Really Provide?

by Barley Snyder

A recent court ruling has significantly changed the scope of what is available in the discovery process of medical malpractice litigation, making it easier for plaintiffs to obtain materials related to physician performance and credentials.

These materials were previously thought to be protected from discovery by the Peer Review Protection Act (PRPA). The Pennsylvania legislature enacted the law in 1974 to give increased protection to medical professionals and organizations that formed review panels to evaluate physician performance and investigate possible malpractice incidences. The PRPA renders materials that are prepared as part of a peer review process privileged and protected from the discovery process during a lawsuit.

However, in Reginelli v. Boggs the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the PRPA does not extend protection from disclosure to a non-licensed third party entity, or committees or individuals reviewing physician credentials. In this case, the plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawsuit against Monongahela Valley Hospital (MVH), UPMC Emergency Medicine Inc. (ERMI) and Marcellus Boggs, M.D, (among other defendants) alleged that Dr. Boggs was negligent when he treated the plaintiff in MVH’s emergency department. Dr. Boggs was an employee of ERMI, which was contracted by MVH to staff and provide administrative services for MVH’s emergency room. The protective privilege of the PRPA was found to not apply to Dr. Bogg’s “performance file,” which was authored by his supervising doctor at ERMI. The court came to this conclusion because ERMI itself was not “approved, licensed or otherwise regulated to practice or operate in the health care field under the laws of the Commonwealth,” and because the performance file was a review of Dr. Boggs’s credentials, which does not fall within the PRPA’s evidentiary privilege.

Notably, the dissent by Justice David Wecht, which was joined by two of the seven justices participating in the consideration of the case, pointed out that the “Majority’s reading leaves the door open to precisely the same effect upon free and frank discussions aimed to ensure and improve an appropriate quality of care that the PRPA strives to vitiate.”

Likewise, this holding has the potential to have widespread effects on the materials that are discoverable and likely opens the door for plaintiffs to seek additional reports and files during discovery. Health care entities are advised to closely review who is authoring all documents related to peer review activities as well as all the processes and procedures that involve peer review. Credentialing documentation processes also should be reviewed and revised with the new knowledge that these documents are possibly discoverable.

The court also implied that if the peer review documentation is generated by a non-licensed third party entity pursuant to a contract with a licensed health care provider, then it may fall within the protections of the PRPA. Yet, the court found that there was no contractual obligation of peer review because the two contracting parties presented conflicting positions regarding the obligations of each party. Thus, all contracts between licensed and non-licensed entity health care providers should be reviewed to determine whether there are contractual obligations to provide peer reviews, and if so, ensure that both contracting parties are aware of this aspect of the contract and understand the obligations of this agreement.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Barley Snyder | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Barley Snyder

Barley Snyder on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.