... is for good men to do nothing.
Retaliation Against Physicians - William L. Manion, M.D.Manion v. Evans, et al.
(HCQIA’s immunity extends only to damages liability)
In 1988, peer reviewers at Lima Memorial Hospital, acting on allegations of incompetency, suspended the clinical privileges of plaintiff, a pathologist at the hospital. After exhausting in-house appeals, plaintiff sued the hospital, its president, and the hospital's other pathologists in federal court, raising alleged antitrust violations and numerous state-law causes of action. The appealing defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis that they are immune from suit under HCQIA.
Issues: In this case, physicians brought an antitrust action against members of the hospital’s peer review committee. On July 21, 1992, the CMA filed a neutral amicus curiae brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, pointing out the legislative intent underlying the Health Care Quality Improvement Act and the applicability and history of HCQIA. The brief argued that as HCQIA’s immunity provides sweeping protection from almost all federal and state laws, it must be construed carefully, in order to prevent peer review abuse.
Outcome: On February 26, 1993, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals became the second U.S. Court of Appeal to rule that the HCQIA’s immunity for defendants is not an immunity from being sued, but rather is an immunity from damages only. This ruling comports with CMA’s understanding of the law, as set forth in CMA’s AC brief, in which the AMA and the Ohio State Medical Association joined. Subsequently, the case was dismissed. The Court of Appeal’s decision may be found at Manion v. Evans et al. (6th Cir.1993) 986 F.2d 1036.