Appeal from the Order entered October 19, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Civil Division, at No: 10-04220
BEFORE: PANELLA, OLSON, and STRASSBURGER, [*] JJ.
Julian Mattiello, M.D. (Mattiello), Brandywine Valley Neurosurgery and Spine, LLC (BVN&S), and Coatesville Hospital Corporation (Brandywine Hospital) (collectively Appellants) appeal from the October 19, 2012 order which granted the motion to compel filed by Benjamin Dorsey (Dorsey) in this medical malpractice action despite Appellants' claim that the documents were privileged under the Peer Review Protection Act (PRPA), 63 P.S. §§ 425.1-425.4. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this memorandum.
The pertinent facts are as follows. Dorsey filed a complaint alleging that he will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life as a result of back surgery negligently performed by Mattiello. As Mattiello had received staff privileges at Brandywine Hospital ten months before the surgery, his surgeries were monitored by a proctor. Mattiello's proctor was Andrew Freese, M.D., who maintained his own private practice (BVN&S). Dorsey amended the complaint to allege corporate negligence against Brandywine Hospital, and pursued discovery from the hospital. Brandywine Hospital claimed that some requested documents were protected by privilege.
On October 19, 2012, following briefing by the parties and an in camera review of the documents, the trial court ordered Brandywine Hospital to produce certain documents. Appellants filed notices of appeal on October 25 and 26, 2012. This Court consolidated the appeals sua sponte by order of December 3, 2012. Appellants present one question for our review.
Did the [t]rial [c]ourt err, in contravention of the [PRPA], in compelling Brandywine Hospital to produce the [specified documents] when thes.e documents were prepared and utilized for peer review, were used by Brandywine Hospital to insure the quality and efficiency of services ordered and/or performed by its physicians, and/or were used by Brandywine Hospital to determine whether or not to grant staff privileges to Dr. Mattiello?
Brandywine Hospital's Brief at 4. See also Brief of Mattiello and BVN&S at 4 (same).
"Generally, an appellate court's standard of review of a trial court's evidentiary rulings is whether the trial court abused its discretion; however, where the evidentiary ruling turns on a question of law our review is plenary." Buckman v. Verazin, 54 A.3d 956, 960 (Pa. Super. 2012) (quoting Dodson v. Deleo, 872 A.2d 1237, 1241 (Pa. Super. 2005)).
The instant appeal involves application of the PRPA, which is designed "to facilitate self-policing in the health care industry." Dodson, 872 A.2d at 1242.
The [PRPA] represents a determination by the legislature that, because of the expertise and level of skill required in the practice of medicine, the medical profession itself is in the best position to police its own activities…. [T]he need for confidentiality in the peer review process stems from the need for comprehensive, honest, and sometimes critical evaluations of medical providers by their peers in the profession. Without the protection afforded through the confidentiality of the proceedings, the ability of the profession to police itself effectively would be severely compromised.
Piroli v. Lodico, 909 A.2d 846, 850 (Pa. Super. 2006) (quoting Young v.Western Pennsylvania Hosp., 722 A.2d ...