Fifth Circuit Reverses Poliner Decision, Finding Immunity for Peer Review Process

On July 23, 2008, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a hospital’s peer review actions were subject to immunity under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (“HCQIA”), reversing a $33M award to a cardiologist who had sued the hospital and physicians who had participated in peer review of his cases. (Poliner v. Texas Health Sys., No. 06-11235 (5th Cir. July 23, 2008)). The circuit court concluded that the trial court should have found that defendants, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, part of Texas Health Systems, and Dr. James Knochel, qualified for HCQIA immunity in the defamation action brought by Dr. Lawrence Poliner after the cardiologist’s heart catheterization lab privileges were temporarily suspended following an incident that occurred almost 10 years ago.

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