UPDATE – Since I originally wrote this piece, the defendant in this case filed a motion for reconsideration and, in June, the Court granted that motion, ultimately reversing the previous decision regarding the sentinel event report. Continue to visit our blog for further updates on the developing law regarding the discoverability of JCHAO sentinel event reports, as well as other issues in Pennsylvania medical malpractice law.

In a case of first impression, the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas has ruled that a hospital’s Sentinel Event Report to the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation (JACHO) is not privileged and must be produced in litigation.

JACHO is a private, independent, non-profit organization that evaluates and accredits hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout the country. One of the things JACHO does is investigate and analyze “sentinel events.” Sentinel events are incidents involving patients, unrelated to the patient’s normal hospital course and treatment, which result in death or serious harm to the patient. Some of the more common “sentinel events” are surgical materials or devices retained or left behind inside patients, falls that occur at hospitals and hospital-acquired infections. When sentinel events occur, JACHO-accredited hospitals report them to JACHO by way of a Sentinel Event Report. JACHO analyzes the events and then works with the hospital to help them learn from the events and improve patient safety moving forward.


Continue Reading Court Rules that Sentinel Event Report to JCHAO is not Privileged

In a recent decision in the case of Zangenberg v. Weis Markets, Inc., et al., 10500 Civil 2012 (CCP Monroe Counrty, April 1, 2015), Judge Stephen M. Higgins granted Defendant, Weis Markets’ Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff had failed to set forth sufficient evidence that Weis was on notice of the slippery condition that allegedly caused Plaintiff’s fall.

Plaintiff alleged that her fall occurred due to a slippery condition caused by an excessive buildup of wax on the floor of the supermarket. In support of this theory, Plaintiff relied upon an invoice indicating that the supermarket floor was waxed sometime during the week of her fall. Plaintiff further relied upon the testimony of her daughter who stated that she saw a black skid mark on the floor after her mother’s fall. However, Plaintiff’s daughter was not present at the time of the fall, nor did she closely examine the area of the skid mark to determine whether there was wax on the floor. Plaintiff testified that the floor was very slippery but she did not notice any foreign substance on the floor either before or after her fall. She further stated that she did not notice anything on her body or clothing after the fall. A Weis employee testified that she examined the area of the fall after it occurred and found nothing.


Continue Reading Monroe County Court Grants Summary Judgment in Supermarket Slip and Fall

As reported by various local and national news outlets, bottled water sold at several local stores under several different brand names has been recalled due to possible E. Coli contamination. The company, Niagara Bottling, has disclosed that it had a positive indication of E. Coli at one of its spring sources. The water was produced

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In 2002, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania created the Patient Safety Authority, the “PSA”, to monitor all medical mistakes at health care facilities, including hospitals, free-standing surgical centers, birthing centers and abortion clinics in the Commonwealth (nursing home incidents are also documented, under a another agency).  Pursuant to the law which created the PSA, all these

On December 23, 2013 (then) Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 126, which affects Pennsylvania motorcycle riders. The law, known as Act 126 of 2013 (effective February 21, 2014) limits the number of times a motorcycle rider can reapply for a learner’s permit to three times, in a five-year period. The original Bill was sponsored

In a recent unanimous decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a government agency cannot assert lawyer-client privilege to protect records when the state attorney general considers those records necessary to fulfill his duties.   The Court went on to say that when the attorney general’s office looks into suspected wrongdoing at a state agency, the

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Immigrants who receive provisional legal status under President Obama’s new executive orders may be eligible for Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid benefits.  Under the President’s plan, U.S. residents can apply for provisional legal status if they have  lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, can pass a criminal background check and have