Testimony heard on bill to bring peer review to medical community

At a meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare on Monday, testimony was heard regarding hospital peer review, a top priority of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Peer Review legislation passed the Senate and the House Health and Welfare Committee during the 2017 legislative session, but never received a hearing on the House floor. During the 2017 General Assembly, Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a physician from Winchester, was the sponsor of Senate Bill 19, which would have established confidential peer review.

Attorney Wes Butler presented to the committee and stated there were a lot of misunderstandings regarding peer review. Butler said that peer review would allow medical providers, such as doctors and hospital staff to critically examine their practices in a confidential evaluation with the goal of improving patient safety and quality of care.  Currently in Kentucky, any peer review conducted by medical providers would be allowed in court.

Much like medical review panels, which were passed during the 2017 General Assembly, peer review legislation would increase protection for medical providers to effectively review their own performance in a frank and open manner without the thought of a lawsuit. Butler stated that Kentucky is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow for confidential peer review, which could lead to improving health outcomes by allowing open communications and an opportunity to exceed the standard of care.

Kentucky has one of the most litigious environments, making the Commonwealth a target for personal injury attorneys, which is of significant interest to business.

Peer review legislation was originally put in Kentucky’s statute in 1976, but was overturned by the Kentucky Supreme Court.  In recent years, peer review legislation would adopt peer review legislation to clarify Kentucky’s existing statute and impose the correct interpretation by Kentucky courts and pertinent federal law.

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