In 2005, the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (PSQIA) was enacted by Congress. It had the goal of establishing a new system where health care providers could collect, report and review information about health care quality, health care outcomes and patient safety. The data collected could be reported to the Patient Safety Organizations, or PSOs, that would then aggregate and analyze the information that was provided.
The PSQIA provides some privacy privileges to the medical teams and hospitals they work with, which has caused problems. The idea was that some documents would be protected by patient safety privileges, which would give the hospitals a chance to review their mistakes and take strides to improve in the future. Unfortunately, some used this protection to attempt to withhold information that patients needed about their own care.
That happened in a case in April, where a woman sought documents during discovery in a medical malpractice case. She asked for the event report, the Serious Safety Event Rating meeting summary, the hospital’s Quality Improvement Staff Peer Review and a few other documents that the hospital argued were afforded privacy thanks to the PSQIA.
In an appeals court, the claim that these documents were protected was rejected. To be protected, the hospital would have needed to have collected the documents solely for the purpose of reporting to a PSO, which was not the case.
Overall, this unusual act does offer some protections that hospitals need, but there is a line between what can and cannot be protected that could negatively affect patients. If you’re told you can’t have information about your care because of this act, it’s worth discussing it with your attorney.