State Court Rules Hospitals’ Internal Reviews Are To Be Kept Confidential

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled recently that a hospital’s internal review of a hospital error may be kept confidential. In making the decision, the Court noted that confidentiality provided healthcare workers to speak honestly and openly about how an error occurred. However, patient safety advocates argue that the ruling is a defeat for transparency and patient safety. According to the New Jersey Law Journal, “Cynthia Walters, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in this case, said the court ‘abrogated its role to protect patients.’ “I don’t think this is a good day for patients,” Walters, of Budd Larner in Short Hills, N.J., said. “The ruling is negative and shortsighted.” Walters said the ruling gives hospitals the ability to hide material that is important to an injured patient behind the veil of “self-critical analysis.” “A patient has a right to the facts about what occurred in a hospital setting,” she said. With the ruling, Walters added, “facts will remain hidden from the patient.”