Shareholder Earl Googe, together with the Florida Hospital Association, recently held a webinar regarding patient safety organizations and protected information, specifically in relation to the Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc. v. Charles case.

The Charles case has been the seminal case in the State of Florida regarding the viability and applicability of privilege and confidentiality afforded to quality assurance and peer review materials created by members of Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs).

The United States Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal filed by Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc. in the Charles case.

The case has garnered national attention due to the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that the privileges promised to PSO members under the federal law did not apply in Florida and made a variety of these documents subject to discovery in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Now that the US Supreme Court has declined the opportunity to review the case, the Charles decision issued by the Florida Supreme Court is binding in the State of Florida. This means that certain classifications of documents discussed in the case, which were previously privileged under the Patient Safety Organization, are now subject to discovery in medical malpractice cases.

The webinar reviewed the Charles decision’s implications and provided an overview of the federal protections that remain, including:

• The significance of the denial of Petition by the U.S. Supreme Court

• What classifications of documents were not covered by the Charles case that may still be protected

• The potential for maintaining dual sets of records regarding incidents within the hospital that can satisfy state reporting requirements while providing more detailed information to a PSO that would remain protected

• How to analyze and respond to adverse incident material requests in the post-Charles era

Googe has marshaled the Charles case from its beginning through the petition for writ of certiorari to the Court. He represents health care institutions in a variety of other adversarial settings, including regulatory agencies, licensing boards and peer review panels.