This is a series describing the ten important pro-immunity peer review cases where court have granted immunity to peer reviewers under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 11112 (“HCQIA”).
No. 7: Meyers v. Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., 341 F 3d 461 (6th Cir., 2003)
Dr. Robert Meyers applied for and received provisional privileges at Logan Memorial Hospital in Russellville, Kentucky. He applied for active privileges a year later and met resistance because of a history of disruptive conduct at other facilities, a less than candid disclosure of his past problems with medical staffs and concerns over the quality of his care. Dr. Meyers admitted that he had a “personality problem.” The Hospital Board of Trustees appointed a hearing committee of non-physicians because of Dr. Meyer’s complaints about competitors sitting on his investigation panels. The Board voted to deny him privileges because of his inability to work cooperatively with others and his failure to meet the ethical standards of the facility.
Dr. Meyers filed three separate lawsuits, one in federal court and two in state court. He appealed the dismissal of his federal court claim based on antitrust, contract and tort claims because of immunity. Her argued that the defendants did not meet the objective criteria of reasonable belief, reasonable effort, and fair notice and process required for HCQIA Immunity. The court held that taking ad hoc and conclusory shots at some, but not all of the evidence presented in the hearing was insufficient to overcome the presumption in favor of immunity.
Interestingly, Dr. Meyers argued that because the hearing panel was made up of lay persons (non-physicians) it could not be considered to be a professional review action and therefore immunity did not apply. Unfortunately, none of the review panel had been named as defendants. In any event, the court determined that peer review immunity was not limited to just physicians as a matter of law.