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43.70.500  <<  43.70.510 >>   43.70.512

RCW 43.70.510

Health care services coordinated quality improvement program — Rules.

(1)(a) Health care institutions and medical facilities, other than hospitals, that are licensed by the department, professional societies or organizations, health care service contractors, health maintenance organizations, health carriers approved pursuant to chapter 48.43 RCW, and any other person or entity providing health care coverage under chapter 48.42 RCW that is subject to the jurisdiction and regulation of any state agency or any subdivision thereof may maintain a coordinated quality improvement program for the improvement of the quality of health care services rendered to patients and the identification and prevention of medical malpractice as set forth in RCW 70.41.200.

     (b) All such programs shall comply with the requirements of RCW 70.41.200(1) (a), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), and (h) as modified to reflect the structural organization of the institution, facility, professional societies or organizations, health care service contractors, health maintenance organizations, health carriers, or any other person or entity providing health care coverage under chapter 48.42 RCW that is subject to the jurisdiction and regulation of any state agency or any subdivision thereof, unless an alternative quality improvement program substantially equivalent to RCW 70.41.200(1)(a) is developed. All such programs, whether complying with the requirement set forth in RCW 70.41.200(1)(a) or in the form of an alternative program, must be approved by the department before the discovery limitations provided in subsections (3) and (4) of this section and the exemption under RCW 42.56.360(1)(c) and subsection (5) of this section shall apply. In reviewing plans submitted by licensed entities that are associated with physicians' offices, the department shall ensure that the exemption under RCW 42.56.360(1)(c) and the discovery limitations of this section are applied only to information and documents related specifically to quality improvement activities undertaken by the licensed entity.

     (2) Health care provider groups of five or more providers may maintain a coordinated quality improvement program for the improvement of the quality of health care services rendered to patients and the identification and prevention of medical malpractice as set forth in RCW 70.41.200. For purposes of this section, a health care provider group may be a consortium of providers consisting of five or more providers in total. All such programs shall comply with the requirements of RCW 70.41.200(1) (a), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), and (h) as modified to reflect the structural organization of the health care provider group. All such programs must be approved by the department before the discovery limitations provided in subsections (3) and (4) of this section and the exemption under RCW 42.56.360(1)(c) and subsection (5) of this section shall apply.

     (3) Any person who, in substantial good faith, provides information to further the purposes of the quality improvement and medical malpractice prevention program or who, in substantial good faith, participates on the quality improvement committee shall not be subject to an action for civil damages or other relief as a result of such activity. Any person or entity participating in a coordinated quality improvement program that, in substantial good faith, shares information or documents with one or more other programs, committees, or boards under subsection (6) of this section is not subject to an action for civil damages or other relief as a result of the activity or its consequences. For the purposes of this section, sharing information is presumed to be in substantial good faith. However, the presumption may be rebutted upon a showing of clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that the information shared was knowingly false or deliberately misleading.

     (4) Information and documents, including complaints and incident reports, created specifically for, and collected and maintained by, a quality improvement committee are not subject to review or disclosure, except as provided in this section, or discovery or introduction into evidence in any civil action, and no person who was in attendance at a meeting of such committee or who participated in the creation, collection, or maintenance of information or documents specifically for the committee shall be permitted or required to testify in any civil action as to the content of such proceedings or the documents and information prepared specifically for the committee. This subsection does not preclude: (a) In any civil action, the discovery of the identity of persons involved in the medical care that is the basis of the civil action whose involvement was independent of any quality improvement activity; (b) in any civil action, the testimony of any person concerning the facts that form the basis for the institution of such proceedings of which the person had personal knowledge acquired independently of such proceedings; (c) in any civil action by a health care provider regarding the restriction or revocation of that individual's clinical or staff privileges, introduction into evidence information collected and maintained by quality improvement committees regarding such health care provider; (d) in any civil action challenging the termination of a contract by a state agency with any entity maintaining a coordinated quality improvement program under this section if the termination was on the basis of quality of care concerns, introduction into evidence of information created, collected, or maintained by the quality improvement committees of the subject entity, which may be under terms of a protective order as specified by the court; (e) in any civil action, disclosure of the fact that staff privileges were terminated or restricted, including the specific restrictions imposed, if any and the reasons for the restrictions; or (f) in any civil action, discovery and introduction into evidence of the patient's medical records required by rule of the department of health to be made regarding the care and treatment received.

     (5) Information and documents created specifically for, and collected and maintained by, a quality improvement committee are exempt from disclosure under chapter 42.56 RCW.

     (6) A coordinated quality improvement program may share information and documents, including complaints and incident reports, created specifically for, and collected and maintained by, a quality improvement committee or a peer review committee under RCW 4.24.250 with one or more other coordinated quality improvement programs maintained in accordance with this section or with RCW 70.41.200, a coordinated quality improvement committee maintained by an ambulatory surgical facility under RCW 70.230.070, a quality assurance committee maintained in accordance with RCW 18.20.390 or 74.42.640, or a peer review committee under RCW 4.24.250, for the improvement of the quality of health care services rendered to patients and the identification and prevention of medical malpractice. The privacy protections of chapter 70.02 RCW and the federal health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996 and its implementing regulations apply to the sharing of individually identifiable patient information held by a coordinated quality improvement program. Any rules necessary to implement this section shall meet the requirements of applicable federal and state privacy laws. Information and documents disclosed by one coordinated quality improvement program to another coordinated quality improvement program or a peer review committee under RCW 4.24.250 and any information and documents created or maintained as a result of the sharing of information and documents shall not be subject to the discovery process and confidentiality shall be respected as required by subsection (4) of this section and RCW 4.24.250.

     (7) The department of health shall adopt rules as are necessary to implement this section.

[2007 c 273 § 21. Prior: 2006 c 8 § 113; 2005 c 291 § 2; 2005 c 274 § 302; 2005 c 33 § 6; 2004 c 145 § 2; 1995 c 267 § 7; 1993 c 492 § 417.]

Notes:

     Effective date -- Implementation -- 2007 c 273: See RCW 70.230.900 and 70.230.901.

     Findings -- Intent -- Part headings and subheadings not law -- Severability -- 2006 c 8: See notes following RCW 5.64.010.

     Part headings not law -- Effective date -- 2005 c 274: See RCW 42.56.901 and 42.56.902.

     Findings -- 2005 c 33: See note following RCW 18.20.390.

     Captions not law -- Severability -- Effective dates -- 1995 c 267: See notes following RCW 43.70.052.

     Findings -- Intent -- 1993 c 492: See notes following RCW 43.20.050.

     Short title -- Severability -- Savings -- Captions not law -- Reservation of legislative power -- Effective dates -- 1993 c 492: See RCW 43.72.910 through 43.72.915.