Part 6. Quality Assurance.

122C-191. Quality of services.

(a) The assurance that services provided are of the highest possible quality within available resources is an obligation of the area authority and the Secretary.

(b) Each area authority and State facility shall comply with the rules of the Commission regarding quality assurance activities, including: program evaluation; utilization and peer review; and staff qualifications, privileging, supervision, education, and training. These rules may not nullify compliance otherwise required by Chapter 126 of the General Statutes.

(c) Each area authority and State facility shall develop internal processes to monitor and evaluate the level of quality obtained by all its programs and services including the activities prescribed in the rules of the Commission.

(d) The Secretary shall develop rules for a review process to monitor area facilities and State facilities for compliance with the required quality assurance activities as well as other rules of the Commission and the Secretary. The rules may provide that the Secretary has the authority to determine whether applicable standards of practice have been met.

(e) For purposes of peer review functions only:

(1) A member of a duly appointed quality assurance committee who acts without malice or fraud shall not be subject to liability for damages in any civil action on account of any act, statement, or proceeding undertaken, made, or performed within the scope of the functions of the committee.

(2) The proceedings of a quality assurance committee, the records and materials it produces, and the material it considers shall be confidential and not considered public records within the meaning of G.S. 132-1,
" 'Public records' defined," and shall not be subject to discovery or introduction into evidence in any civil action against a facility or a provider of professional health services that results from matters which are the subject of evaluation and review by the committee. No person who was in attendance at a meeting of the committee shall be required to testify in any civil action as to any evidence or other matters produced or presented during the proceedings of the committee or as to any findings, recommendations, evaluations, opinions, or other actions of the committee or its members. However, information, documents or records otherwise available are not immune from discovery or use in a civil action merely because they were presented during proceedings of the committee, and nothing herein shall prevent a provider of professional health services from using such otherwise available information, documents or records in connection with an administrative hearing or civil suit relating to the medical staff membership, clinical privileges or employment of the provider. Documents otherwise available as public records within the meaning of G.S. 132-1 do not lose their status as public records merely because they were presented or considered during proceedings of the committee. A member of the committee or a person who testifies before the committee may be subpoenaed and be required to testify in a civil action as to events of which the person has knowledge independent of the peer review process, but cannot be asked about the person's testimony before the committee for impeachment or other purposes or about any opinions formed as a result of the committee hearings.

(3) Peer review information that is confidential and is not subject to discovery or use in civil actions under this section may be released to a professional standards review organization that contracts with an agency of this State or the federal government to perform any accreditation or certification function, including the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Information released under this subdivision shall be limited to that which is reasonably necessary and relevant to the standards review organization's determination to grant or continue accreditation or certification. Information released under this subdivision retains its confidentiality and is not subject to discovery or use in any civil actions as provided under this subsection, and the standards review organization shall keep the information confidential subject to this section. (1977, c. 568, s. 1; 1979, c. 358, s. 1; 1983, c. 383, s. 1; 1985, c. 589, s. 2; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1053, s. 1; 1998-212, s. 12.35C(d); 1999-222, s. 1; 2004-149, s. 2.7.)