AB 655 (Hayashi) is supposed to be about improving peer review in our hospitals. It's supposed to be about protecting patients. The intent of the bill is to create legislation to facilitate the transfer of peer review information among hospitals. Sadly, the bill is so carelessly written that it would also allow false and defamatory material to be transferred. Although this weakness in the proposed legislation has been repeatedly pointed out to the author, the Assemblywoman has remained unconvinced, in part because the bill is sponsored by the California Medical Association (CMA) but not without internal controversy. Some CMA members are mystified that a physicians' organization would support a bill that hands over power to hospital administrations.
One portion of the proposed legislation states that "all relevant (italics added) peer review information ... shall be made available to the licentiate." Fair enough, right? The physician undergoing peer review gets to know what kind of information is being passed around, right? No, wrong!
The word "relevant" is the bug in this sandwich. It means that the hospital in charge of transferring the peer review material and/or the hospital receiving it will get to decide what's relevant or isn't.
Solution: drop the word, "relevant" and make sure that all, all of the transferred information, is given to the physician undergoing peer review.
Another part of the bill lets the hospital off the hook entirely. Here's how it's done: the bill says that a responding peer review organization "is not obligated" to produce the pertinent peer review information unless the doctor undegoing peer review signs a release.
Solution: the responding peer review organization should not release anything at all until and unless the physician undergoing peer review signs a release.
Hayashi and staff have ignored this advice for the entire career of this bill to date. The bill should be annointed The Sham Peer Review Enabling Bill.
AB 655 (Hayashi) in its present form is an invitation to lawsuits, in fact, it's a litigator's dream, a nightmare for good doctors who run afoul of hospital administrations, and a catastrophe for patients.
The California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery (CSIMS) is opposed, the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) is watch, and the California Neurology Society (CNS) has declined to have a position.