The Federal Patient Safety Privilege (This is Not Your Grandmother's Peer Review Privilege!)

Published on: 6/11/2014

This article is authored by healthcare attorney Ruth T. Griggs and was published in the Journal of Civil Litigation, a publication of Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys. It provides an explanation on the 2005 Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (“Patient Safety Act”).


When bad outcomes occur in the course of patient care and treatment, healthcare providers routinely engage in discussions and root-cause analysis in an effort to learn, when possible and appropriate, better ways to handle patient care and treatment and to prevent bad outcomes in the future. Frank and open communication among providers is essential to this process. Virginia Code sections 8.01-581.16 and -581.17 were passed, at least in part, to facilitate these communications by protecting them from discovery and disclosure. However, many courts throughout the Commonwealth routinely interpret these statutes to apply very narrowly, if at all, to efforts by providers to investigate bad outcomes and improve patient care.

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Ruth Griggs- article