Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (6)11 Nov 98

Quick Summary: A nurse who participates in physician peer-review cannot be sued if the peer-review was done:
  • With a reasonable belief the peer-review would contribute to healthcare quality.
  • With a reasonable effort to obtain the facts.
  • With a reasonable belief the peer-review action was warranted by the facts, and
  • With adequate prior notice to the physician.

On the other hand, peer-review undertaken with malice against a physician can be grounds for a civil lawsuit. COURT OF APPEAL OF LOUISIANA, 1998.

The patient died during a balloon angioplasty. A nurse was assisting. Her only involvement in the physician peer-review process was to testify to the hospitalís peer-review committee that she pulled the catheter sheath out of the patient during CPR. That action had made it impossible to determine in the autopsy whether the catheter was properly situated, improperly situated and/or defectively manufactured.

The physician maintained the hospital was interested only in using this incident to force him out, because the hospital was concerned he was keeping his patients in the hospital longer than Medicare would reimburse and costing the hospital money.

The Court of Appeal of Louisiana did not explain how it implicated the nurse for taking sides against the physician. However, the court kept her in the case as one of many defendants in the physicianís lawsuit. Zamanian v. Christian Health Ministry, 715 So. 2d 57
(La. App., 1998).