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Lowy v. Peacehealth
Washington Supreme Court
280 P.3d 1078 (2012)
Dr. Leasa Lowy (plaintiff) suffered nerve damage during a medical procedure at a hospital owned by Peacehealth (the hospital) (defendant). Lowy believed the nerve damage was caused by an improper intravenous (IV) infusion. Lowy was a staff physician at the hospital and saw a computer screen identifying approximately 170 IV-infusion injuries, with the patient names replaced by identification numbers. The list shown on the screen had been compiled as part of the hospital’s internal quality-improvement program, which used a peer-review process to analyze reported medical-competence issues. Lowy sued the hospital, claiming that its corporate negligence had led to serious and systemic issues with IV infusions. During discovery, Lowy requested records for any hospital patients during a nine-year period who had suffered IV-infusion injuries. The hospital conceded that the patient records were discoverable. However, the hospital had no way to electronically search its database of patient records, and a manual search of the possible records for this time period was unduly burdensome. Lowy noted that the hospital could use the peer-review document to identify and locate the 170 patients on that list. The hospital argued that it could not be forced to use a privileged, undiscoverable peer-review document to identify discoverable records. After multiple motions, the trial court issued a protective order preventing the hospital from having to use the peer-review list. Lowy appealed, and the appellate court vacated the protective order. The hospital appealed the issue to the Washington Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chambers, J.)
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