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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Kevin O’Malley, a Houston attorney, sued Parkway Place, a nursing home operated by Capital Senior Management. He filed a request with the Department of Human Services under the Texas Public Information Act for documents compiled by the department during its annual surveys and licensing examinations of Capital, as well as documents compiled by the department while investigating complaints of abuse or neglect. Capital sent a letter to the department saying that the information was not public. The department sent a representative sample of the documents to the attorney general for review, and the AG said the department should withhold only various surveys, personal resident information, medical records, and “reports, records, and working papers used” by the department in an investigation of abuse or neglect; the rest should be disclosed, the AG found. Capital sued to enjoin the department from disclosing the information under one of several peer-review committee privileges or the “quality-of-care” privilege. Finding Capital had not met its burden of proving its right to injunctive relief, he trial court ordered the department to release the information. HOLDING:Affirmed in part; reversed and remanded in part. The court states that, to be entitled to injunctive relief, Capital was first required to show the existence of a wrongful act. The wrongful act, according to Capital, was the court’s wrongful order for the department to release documents Capital believes are privileged or confidential by law. The court finds that the documents fall into one of two categories: those generated by Capital and those generated by the department. Within the first categories, the court focuses on documents called “Facility Investigation Reports” and “Facility Abuse/Neglect Investigation Reports,” both of which the trial court said must be disclosed. The court looks to the Health & Safety Code and finds a reference to the redaction of personally identifying information from records if they are to be made public, and the Administrative Code to find provisions that mandate the confidentiality of department records used or developed in an investigation. Only completed, written reports are available to the public, provided that identifying information is redacted or upon request of a person who would be identified in the report. The court finds that these sections do not authorize the release of either of the investigative reports. The court notes that in a case reviewing the release of names of people who made complaints to the department, a policy interest in protecting the patient’s privacy and the integrity of the investigatory process. The same policy considerations apply here, the court rules, making these reports non-public and excepted from disclosure under the PIA. “While the names of complainants, witnesses and victims must be deleted from completed investigation reports, releasing these documents during the investigatory phase might enable one to identify the complainant. The prohibition against the release of original reports of abuse or neglect also serves to protect the nursing home in the event the report is unsubstantiated. The Department is prohibited from releasing incomplete investigatory reports.” The court then examines the documents generated by the department. Capital contends that the documents are part of the peer-review committee process, for which the legislature has indicated a need for confidentiality. The court distinguishes Humana Hospital Corp. v. Spears-Peterson, 867 S.W.2d 858 (Tex.App. � San Antonio 1993, no writ), which Capital says stands for the proposition that the department was an extension of Capital’s review committees because the department’s work fell within the committees’ quality-of-care oversight function. The Humana case involved an independent, non-governmental credentialing body, the court points out, unlike this case, which involved a public, independent, governmental entity authorized by law to administer state welfare functions “off-base.” The court rejects Capital’s additional argument that when the Legislature put peer-review committees in charge of a facility’s quality-of-care and made their deliberations confidential, it intended to subordinate the PIA and other disclosure statutes. Capital adds that courts should not tamper with this bias toward confidentiality. “Capital fails to realize that Texas courts have not carved out new exceptions to the peer-review committee privilege but have simply applied the peer-review privilege to prevent what Capital now attempts to do � namely, cloak public information in confidentiality by first filtering it through the peer-review process.” Just because a report may deal with a nursing home’s quality of care and has been reviewed by a peer-review committee, the court adds, doesn’t necessarily mean that the report is closed off by the peer-review committee privilege. The court further finds that none of the documents were generated for or by a peer-review committee. “They deal with reports of abuse and neglect and the nursing home’s follow-up and were not the product of a committee’s deliberative process. Therefore, the documents are not privileged and are subject to disclosure.” Finally, the court states that while it is the policy of the state to encourage health-care facilities to have uninhibited discussions about the quality of medical care they provide, it is also policy to ensure that facilities disclose information related to neglect and abuse. OPINION:Puryear, J.; Law, C.J., Smith and Puryear, JJ.

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