Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, Civil Division, No. 3401 Civil 1982.
Daniel K. Deardorff, Carlisle, for appellants.
Daniel P. Altland, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Wickersham,*fn* Rowley and Tamilia, JJ.
[ 361 Pa. Super. Page 492]
These are consolidated appeals, specially allowed,*fn1 from a certified, interlocutory discovery order in a medical malpractice action. The issue presented has not been addressed by the appellate courts of this Commonwealth. That issue is whether the Peer Review Protection Act, Act of July 20, 1974, P.L. 564, No. 193, as amended 1978, October 5, P.L. 1121, No. 262, Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 63 § 425.1 et seq. (Purdon Supp.1986) ("the Act"), is violated by an order which gives a plaintiff access through the discovery process to peer review information that is not directly related to his or her case.
[ 361 Pa. Super. Page 493]
Plaintiffs Robert and Nola Sanderson instituted this action against Frank S. Bryan, M.D., LTD. and Carlisle Hospital alleging that Mr. Sanderson was admitted to Carlisle Hospital where he was treated by Dr. Bryan for radicular back pain. The Sandersons aver that Dr. Bryan was negligent in performing surgical procedures which resulted in exacerbating Mr. Sanderson's physical problems. They further contend that Carlisle Hospital was negligent in allowing Dr. Bryan to perform surgical procedures beyond the scope of his privileges and in failing to supervise and monitor those surgical procedures.
During discovery, plaintiffs filed a Request for Production of Documents directed to Carlisle Hospital requesting all documents and recordings, other than those relating to their cause of action, maintained by any review organization within the hospital involving the evaluation and review of Dr. Bryan. Carlisle Hospital filed objections to this request, believing such information to be privileged from discovery under the Act. Dr. Bryan filed a petition for a protective order. The trial court denied in part the objections and petition and ordered Carlisle Hospital to produce certain requested documents, i.e., complaints, findings and recommendations. It further ordered that the names and addresses of the patients in any disclosed materials be deleted. Both Carlisle Hospital and Dr. Bryan have appealed from this order contending that the purpose of the Act is to promote peer review activity by protecting the confidential nature of such proceedings, and that this purpose is emasculated by the trial court's decision. Briefs in support of defendants' position have been filed by amici curiae Pennsylvania Medical Society Liability Insurance Company, Pennsylvania Medical Society, and Hospital Association of Pennsylvania.
These appeals involve the interpretation of the Act, particularly section four, entitled "Confidentiality of review organization's records," which provides in part as follows:
The proceedings and records of a review committee shall be held in confidence and shall not be subject to
[ 361 Pa. Super. Page 494]
discovery or introduction into evidence in any civil action against a professional health care provider arising out of the matters which are the subject of evaluation and review by such committee and no person who was in attendance at a meeting of such committee shall be permitted or required to testify in any such civil action as to any evidence or other matters produced or presented during the proceedings of such committee or as to ...