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Risk Manager Notes Protected by Privilege

In this lawsuit against an anesthesiology group, a nonparty hospital risk manager who responded to contact from a lawyer engaged four days after a death, and who contacted outside counsel, investigated the incident and collected information to share with outside counsel, acted in anticipation of litigation, and a Fairfax Circuit Court says the risk manager’s notes are protected by the work product and attorney-client privilege and are not discoverable by plaintiff.

The court grants the motion to quash as it pertains to the hospital risk manager’s investigation notes.

Plaintiff also requests redacted medical records for the other, third-party patients in the hospital electro-physiology lab on May 17, 2010, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Both defendants and nonparty hospital object to disclosure on grounds that medical records for other non-party patients are subject to strict privacy protections under Va. Code § 32.1-127.1:03.

The court finds the patient records to be discoverable. While Code § 32.1-127.1:03 certainly sets forth strong protections for patient privacy, the statute and related statutes anticipate the necessity of court order in certain circumstances to release the records in the advancement of the ends of justice. Any privacy concerns may be reasonably addressed both by redacting the patient identifying information, and by placing the records under a protective order.

The motion to quash as it pertains to redacted third-party patient records is denied.

Planicka v. American Anesthesiology (Thacher) No. CL 2011-1344, Nov. 22, 2011; Fairfax Cir.Ct.; John A. Blazer for plaintiff; James N. Knaack for defendants; Alexa K. Mosley for hospital. VLW 011-8-212, 5 pp.

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