Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Discovery

Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Discovery

On November 23, 2011, Circuit Court for the City of Alexandria, Virginia, rejected defendant healthcare provider’s medical malpractice claim of privilege based on the 2011 Amendment of Va. Code Ann. §8.01-581.17, and ordered the hospital to produce its so-called “incident report”. The pivotal case is Mary Hamill v. INOVA Alexandria Hospital, No. CL-10004231.

Significantly, the healthcare provider in Hamill v. INOVA introduced testimony that the patient’s nurse “reported the incident electronically to Inova Alexandria Hospital’s quality department,” with the purpose ostensibly being “to initiate a peer review of the incident to determine if measures should be taken to improve the quality of care”. Defendant’s Memorandum at 3. INOVA unsuccessfully asserted by deposition that the medical malpractice incident report “automatically goes to Quality,” with the quality department doing a “post-event assessment”. Id. at 6.

Plaintiff patient in Hamill v. INOVA successfully relied chiefly on Mr. Waterman’s landmark medical malpractice appeal, Riverside Hosp., Inc. v. Johnson, 272 Va. 518 (2006). Therein the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the discoverability and the admissibility of incident reports, rejecting that a healthcare provider routing facts about patient care through a covered committee created privilege. Id. at 532.

Hamill v. INOVA undercuts the medical malpractice defense viewpoint by W. Scott Johnson, Esq. of Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle, P.C. in his article “2011 General Assembly Amendments to Va. Code §8.01-581.17: Quality Assurance and Peer Review Protection,” Virginia Lawyer, Vol. 60 (Dec. 2011). Plaintiff counsel are invited to contact Mr. Waterman for a copy of the 11/23/11 Order in Hamill v. INOVA.