Corporate healthcare providers—including long-term care facilities—that employ healthcare professionals will be severely restricted in their ability to conduct privileged interviews with them when preparing defense cases after a decision by the Washington Supreme Court, predicts one legal expert.
The Youngs v. PeaceHealth ruling means that a plaintiff’s attorney must be allowed to be part of any meeting between a facility and its provider-employees when a negligence or malpractice case is being discussed, says Todd Presnell, a partner and litigator with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Nashville, Tenn. “This is a significant decision that will have implications in many other states,” he adds.
The decision, Presnell says, essentially elevates the privileged relationship between a patient/resident and his or her physician or other healthcare practitioner over the corporate attorney‒client privilege and reinforces the state of Washington’s no-contact rule, which precludes a physician from discussing patient/resident communications with defense attorneys.
“It will be interesting to see how this ruling applies in practice and how it will affect other state courts that have yet to address this battle-of-the-privileges issue,” Presnell says.
For more information, read Presnell’s blog entry on the topic.