N.J. Supreme Court rules hospitals don't have to disclose internal error investigations

According to a ruling handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court, hospitals do not have to release records documenting an internal examination in medical malpractice cases, according to an NJ.com report.

The ruling upholds the Patient Safety Act of 2004, which intends to improve patient safety in hospitals by establishing a medical error reporting system to facilitate the creation of solutions and examples for improvement instead of placing blame on physicians. The Public Safety Act protects hospitals' confidentiality of internal investigations related to these mistakes.

The ruling comes from a medical malpractice lawsuit in which a couple alleged their daughter's brain injury and seizure disorder were caused by errors made during delivery and subsequent care at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., according to the report.

The couple asked a judge to order the hospital to hand over memos regarding patient post-incident analyses that had information regarding their daughter, but the judge said the documents were protected under the Patient Safety Act. The couple appealed the decision. The Appellate court reviewing the case sided with the couple, saying the hospital's investigation was not conducted properly, rendering it unprotected by the Patient Safety Act. The hospital then asked the state's Supreme Court to take the case.

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