(1) Every hospital shall 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. The program shall include at least the following:
(a) The establishment of one or more quality improvement committees with the responsibility to review the services rendered in the hospital, both retrospectively and prospectively, in order to improve the quality of medical care of patients and to prevent medical malpractice. Different quality improvement committees may be established as a part of a quality improvement program to review different health care services. Such committees shall oversee and coordinate the quality improvement and medical malpractice prevention program and shall ensure that information gathered pursuant to the program is used to review and to revise hospital policies and procedures;
(b) A process, including a medical staff privileges sanction procedure which must be conducted substantially in accordance with medical staff bylaws and applicable rules, regulations, or policies of the medical staff through which credentials, physical and mental capacity, professional conduct, and competence in delivering health care services are periodically reviewed as part of an evaluation of staff privileges;
(c) A process for the periodic review of the credentials, physical and mental capacity, professional conduct, and competence in delivering health care services of all other health care providers who are employed or associated with the hospital;
(d) A procedure for the prompt resolution of grievances by patients or their representatives related to accidents, injuries, treatment, and other events that may result in claims of medical malpractice;
(e) The maintenance and continuous collection of information concerning the hospital's experience with negative health care outcomes and incidents injurious to patients including health care-associated infections as defined in RCW 43.70.056, patient grievances, professional liability premiums, settlements, awards, costs incurred by the hospital for patient injury prevention, and safety improvement activities;
(f) The maintenance of relevant and appropriate information gathered pursuant to (a) through (e) of this subsection concerning individual physicians within the physician's personnel or credential file maintained by the hospital;
(g) Education programs dealing with quality improvement, patient safety, medication errors, injury prevention, infection control, staff responsibility to report professional misconduct, the legal aspects of patient care, improved communication with patients, and causes of malpractice claims for staff personnel engaged in patient care activities; and
(h) Policies to ensure compliance with the reporting requirements of this section.
(2) 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 (8) of this section is not subject to an action for civil damages or other relief as a result of the activity. 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.
(3) 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 which 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, 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 (e) in any civil action, discovery and introduction into evidence of the patient's medical records required by regulation of the department of health to be made regarding the care and treatment received.
(4) Each quality improvement committee shall, on at least a semiannual basis, report to the governing board of the hospital in which the committee is located. The report shall review the quality improvement activities conducted by the committee, and any actions taken as a result of those activities.
(5) The department of health shall adopt such rules as are deemed appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this section.
(6) The medical quality assurance commission or the board of osteopathic medicine and surgery, as appropriate, may review and audit the records of committee decisions in which a physician's privileges are terminated or restricted. Each hospital shall produce and make accessible to the commission or board the appropriate records and otherwise facilitate the review and audit. Information so gained shall not be subject to the discovery process and confidentiality shall be respected as required by subsection (3) of this section. Failure of a hospital to comply with this subsection is punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars.
(7) The department, the joint commission on accreditation of health care organizations, and any other accrediting organization may review and audit the records of a quality improvement committee or peer review committee in connection with their inspection and review of hospitals. Information so obtained shall not be subject to the discovery process, and confidentiality shall be respected as required by subsection (3) of this section. Each hospital shall produce and make accessible to the department the appropriate records and otherwise facilitate the review and audit.
(8) 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 RCW 43.70.510, 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 (3) of this section, RCW 18.20.390 (6) and (8), 74.42.640 (7) and (9), and 4.24.250.
(9) A hospital that operates a nursing home as defined in RCW 18.51.010 may conduct quality improvement activities for both the hospital and the nursing home through a quality improvement committee under this section, and such activities shall be subject to the provisions of subsections (2) through (8) of this section.
(10) Violation of this section shall not be considered negligence per se.
[2013 c 301 § 2. Prior: 2007 c 273 § 22; 2007 c 261 § 3; prior: 2005 c 291 § 3; 2005 c 33 § 7; 2004 c 145 § 3; 2000 c 6 § 3; 1994 sp.s. c 9 § 742; 1993 c 492 § 415; 1991 c 3 § 336; 1987 c 269 § 5; 1986 c 300 § 4.]
| Effective date -- Implementation -- 2007 c 273: See RCW 70.230.900 and 70.230.901.|
Finding -- 2007 c 261: See note following RCW 43.70.056.
Findings -- 2005 c 33: See note following RCW 18.20.390.
Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.
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.
Legislative findings -- Severability -- 1986 c 300: See notes following RCW 18.57.245.
Board of osteopathic medicine and surgery: Chapter 18.57 RCW.
Medical quality assurance commission: Chapter 18.71 RCW.