Jacksonville Medical Center, Inc. v. Akers

Decision Date27 April 1990
Docket NumberNo. 89-3372,89-3372
Citation560 So.2d 1313
Parties15 Fla. L. Weekly D1153 JACKSONVILLE MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Petitioner, v. Dottie AKERS and Russell Akers, her husband, Respondents.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Michael C. Pendley and Michael J. Davie, of Bullock & Childs, P.A., and Robert C. Gobelman, Jacksonville, for petitioner.

Thomas E. Duffy, Jr., of Brown, Terrell, Hogan, Ellis, McClamma & Yegelwel, P.A., Jacksonville, for respondents.

ERVIN, Judge.

Petitioner, Jacksonville Medical Center, Inc. (JMC), filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of the trial court's order compelling JMC to produce documents requested by respondents Dottie Akers and Russell Akers in an underlying medical malpractice action which respondents brought against JMC, Dr. Robert C. Brown, Jr., and Dr. Robert C. Brown, Jr., P.A. We grant the petition only to the extent that the documents should be subjected to an in camera inspection by the trial court for the purpose stated infra. Otherwise, the petition is denied.

The Akers requested that both JMC and Dr. Brown produce Dr. Brown's applications for appointment to the medical staff of JMC and renewal of staff privileges, along with supporting documentation. JMC objected, asserting that such materials are privileged pursuant to Section 395.011(9), Florida Statutes (1989), and Section 766.101(5), Florida Statutes (1989). Dr. Brown, however, complied with the request, and following his production of the application for appointment to the medical staff, the Akers served a request for admissions upon JMC, requesting JMC to confirm that the application was a true copy of the original on file with the hospital. At the same time, the Akers filed a motion to compel production of the documents. JMC subsequently denied the request for admissions for the reason that the copy submitted lacked supporting documentation which Dr. Brown had earlier presented with the original. The trial judge thereafter ordered JMC to produce the requested materials.

Sections 395.011(9) and 766.101(5) each prohibit discovery of investigations, proceedings, and records of a licensing board or medical review committee, respectively, in a civil action against a health care provider in which the cause of action arose from matters that were the subject of evaluation and review by the board or committee. 1 Included in each provision is the following exception:

However, information, documents, or records otherwise available from original sources are not to be construed as immune from discovery or use in any such civil action merely because they were presented during proceedings of such committee [or board].

(Emphasis added.) We conclude that Dr. Brown's applications and supporting documents fall within this exception.

The statutory immunity provisions were enacted to ensure an environment of candor and confidentiality in medical peer review proceedings. Feldman v. Glucroft, 522 So.2d 798, 800-01 (Fla.1988) (quoting Holly v. Auld, 450 So.2d 217, 219-20 (Fla.1984)). However, "[t]he shield of confidentiality protects only those words spoken within the four walls of the committee meeting itself and the records made as a direct result thereof. Anything else is discoverable and may be used as evidence at trial." Parkway Gen. Hosp., Inc. v. Allinson, 453 So.2d 123, 126 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984).

In the case at bar, Dr. Brown's applications are not exclusively the records of the hospital's licensing board or peer review committee; they were generated by Dr. Brown and submitted by him to the hospital for its consideration. Cf. Willing v. St. Joseph Hosp., 176 Ill.App.3d 737, 531 N.E.2d 824 (App.Ct.1988) (comparable statutory privilege does not apply to applications for staff appointment and for specific privileges; applications are not part of the peer review process but are voluntarily submitted prior to such proceedings), appeal denied, 125 Ill.2d 575, 130 Ill.Dec. 490, 537 N.E.2d 819 (1989). The statutory exception within sections 395.011(9) and 766.101(5) explicitly underscores the distinction between records created by the internal hospital entity, and those produced by outside entities and considered by the hospital group. The exception prevents parties from "hiding" behind the shield of the statutory immunity provision when they are asked to produce documents that were generated by, and otherwise available from, outside sources. See David J. Burton, D.M.D., P.A. v. Becker, 516 So.2d 283 (Fla. 2d DCA 1987) (section 766.101(5), formerly section 768.40(5), exception to discovery privilege applies to medical records relied upon by medical review committee but which are otherwise available from drug treatment facility).

Here, the original source, Dr. Brown, has willingly complied with the discovery request; therefore JMC cannot in good faith claim that the same applications are simultaneously immune from discovery under the statutes. Clearly, in this case, production of the originals will not compromise the confidentiality of any proceedings conducted by JMC regarding Dr. Brown's application. In the event, however, that members of the hospital committee may have made notations upon those documents during their review or investigation, we direct the trial court to conduct an in camera inspection of the materials requested in order to determine whether any such entries fall within the statutory proscription and should therefore be deleted prior to production.

In so holding, we recognize that there is apparent conflict between our decision and Tarpon Springs Gen. Hosp. v....

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4 cases
  • Brandon Regional Hosp. v. Murray
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • May 10, 2007
    ...by the committee as part of its decision-making process. Cruger specifically rejected the holding in Jacksonville Medical Center, Inc. v. Akers, 560 So.2d 1313 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990), that physicians' applications and supporting documentation seeking hospital privileges were not included in th......
  • Boca Raton Community Hosp. v. Jones, s. 91-1526
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • August 21, 1991
    ...Dade County Medical Association v. Hlis, 372 So.2d 117 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979). We certify conflict with Jacksonville Medical Center, Inc. v. Akers, 560 So.2d 1313 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990), cause dismissed, 581 So.2d 1308 The petitions for writ of certiorari are granted, and the orders denying petiti......
  • Cruger v. Love
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • April 23, 1992
    ...Justice. We review Love v. Cruger, 570 So.2d 362 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990), on the basis of conflict with Jacksonville Medical Center, Inc. v. Akers, 560 So.2d 1313 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990). We have jurisdiction. Art. V, Sec. 3(b)(3), Fla. Elois Cruger sued Dr. Douglas Love on behalf of her son for th......
  • Jacksonville Medical Center, Inc. v. Akers
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1991
    ...Jacksonville Medical Center, Inc. v. Akers (Dottie) NO. 76,275 581 So.2d 1308 Supreme Court of Florida. MAY 31, 1991 Appeal From: 1st DCA 560 So.2d 1313 Cause ...

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