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Saturday, August 18, 2012

C.A., ET AL. VS. ERIC BENTOLILA, M.D., ET AL. A-1261-11T1


C.A., ET AL. VS. ERIC BENTOLILA, M.D., ET AL. A-1261-11T1
In this case of first impression, we construe the confidentiality provisions within the Patient Safety Act (the "PSA"), N.J.S.A. 26:2H-12.23 to -12.25, and their interplay with other laws and procedures, including the qualified common-law privilege for self-critical analysis of medical peer review documents set forth in Christy v. Salem, 366 N.J. Super. 535 (App. Div. 2004).
We hold that post-event investigatory and analytic documents exclusively created by a medical facility in compliance with the PSA and its associated regulations, and not created for some other statutory or licensure purpose, are absolutely privileged from disclosure under the PSA. The PSA's confidentiality provisions insulate such documents from outside access. They do so regardless of a plaintiff's asserted needfor disclosure and regardless of whether the documents contain factual information in addition to subjective opinions.
However, if the specified procedures of the PSA and the related regulations have not been observed, or if the documents have been generated for additional non-PSA purposes, then the PSA's absolute privilege does not apply. Instead, other legal principles govern, such as those expressed in Christy, depending upon the kind of document involved. 8-09-12