Under Court Rules, Nursing Home’s Safety Documents are Not Protected

According to a recent report, the federal trial court has ruled that a nursing home operator in North Carolina is unable to claim privilege in protecting documents authored by its safety committee from being disclosed.

The case arose when a resident passed away, allegedly because of injuries obtained from an accident that involved a wheelchair ramp at a nursing home owned by SSC Silver Stream Operating Co.

Relatives of the resident asked for all safety audits pertaining to the facility’s entrance and grounds, meeting minutes or documents from the safety committee, the safety committee’s toolkit and incident reports. However, SSC declined to produce the documents, citing a North Carolina law that protects documents produced by or for a quality assurance committee.

The law establishes that a quality assurance committee is a department or agency of a nursing home that is “formed for the purpose of evaluating the quality, cost of, or necessity for healthcare services under applicable federal and state statutes, regulations, and rules,: court documents report.

The court ruled that SCC’s safety committee did not meet the standards of a quality assurance committee since it met separately and kept separate records from its quality assurance and performance improvement committee.