PEER REVIEW: Natarajan v. Dignity Health (St. Joseph Medical Center) (California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, C085906)
CMA filed an amicus brief in this peer review case regarding the appropriate legal standard for disqualifying peer review hearing officers. The plaintiff is a hospitalist who lost his privileges after a peer review hearing. In his appeal, the plaintiff does not dispute the factual findings and conclusions of the peer review panel but rather, claims that the hearing officer in his peer review proceeding was biased and should have been disqualified. CMA's brief seeks to equip the Court with the appropriate background, frame, and evidentiary foundation to fashion a robust and clear hearing officer impartiality standard. The brief also suggests guiding principles for a hearing officer impartiality standard.
On October 22, 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Dignity Health, holding that fair procedure forbids only a direct financial interest in the outcome of a proceeding, not the appearance of bias. Following publication of the decision, plaintiff filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court on December 23, 2019. The petition is pending.