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Confidential medical records on doctors sought by L.A. officials

August 29, 2010 |  3:42 pm

In a fight that could have wide-ranging implications, Los Angeles County supervisors are pushing to see confidential medical records used by county doctors to evaluate their peers to determine whether they have met accepted standards of care, saying they need the information to ensure patient safety and justify settling malpractice claims against the county.

Access to such information emerged as an issue earlier this year after concerns were raised about peer review at Olive View- UCLA Medical Center. An anonymous letter to state regulators alleged that among other problems at the county hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, doctors and staff were not meeting to discuss medical mistakes and that peer review was "missing."

In May, Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Gloria Molina sent a letter to John Schunhoff, interim chief of the county's Department of Health Services, requesting access to relevant peer review records at Olive View. They cited county counsel's advice that they had authority to review the documents "for the purposes of monitoring and oversight."

Soon after, hospital officials made peer review documents for the last year for the neonatal unit available to supervisors' deputies. Antonovich's health deputy, Fred Leaf, said they were satisfied that peer review was being conducted and gave officials more time to comply with a request to see a list of all peer-reviewed cases at the hospital over the last two years.

Olive View officials have since refused to release records, a position supported by leaders at the county's three other hospitals. They are negotiating with the county's chief executive, William T Fujioka, who declined to comment.

Read the full story here: "L.A. County supervisors want to see doctors' peer review documents from hospitals."

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske