Malpractice Coverage for FSHC Doctors: Did you know that a federal court recently ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must reconsider its denial of malpractice coverage under the Federal Tort Claims Act to physicians who contract with a federally supported community health center (FSHC) through their professional corporations? The federal government is responsible for paying attorney's fees and damages arising out claims against FSHC employees, officers, and individual contractors brought by FSHC patients alleging sub-standard care. In El Rio Santa Cruz Neighborhood Health Center Inc. v. HHS, the court held that HHS had not articulated a rational basis for covering doctors who contract individually with a FSHC but denying coverage to those who contract through their professional corporation, and, therefore, HHS' denial was arbitrary and capricious.
Peer Reviewers Lose Absolute Liability Shield: Did you know that the Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled that peer reviewers were entitled to qualified immunity, but not absolute immunity, from personal liability for actions taken as part of the peer review process? In Chadha v. Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, a Connecticut court held that peer reviewers may be held personally liable if it is found that they acted with malice. Additionally, if the subject of a peer review alleges malice on the part of one or more peer reviewers, those peer reviewers may be forced to defend themselves in court.
Hospital Forced to Provide Sign Language Interpreters: Did you know that a Minnesota hospital recently settled an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint by paying $200,000 in damages and penalties, and by agreeing to have qualified sign language interpreters available 24 hours a day to its patients? In United States v. Fairview Health Services, a woman who had donated a kidney to her deaf husband complained to the U.S. Department of Justice that the sign language interpreter provided to her and her husband by the hospital did not adequately communicate either the risks involved in the surgery or the nature of subsequent medical treatments.