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Bill Number: 3523 Ratification Number: 239 Act Number 158 Introducing Body: House Subject: Relating to the exemption from liability of members of certain professional committees
(A158, R239, H3523)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 40-71-10, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE EXEMPTION FROM LIABILITY OF MEMBERS OF CERTAIN PROFESSIONAL COMMITTEES, SO AS TO EXEMPT COMMITTEES APPOINTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL TO REVIEW PATIENT MEDICAL AND HEALTH RECORDS IN ORDER TO STUDY THE CAUSES OF DEATH AND DISEASE; AND TO AMEND SECTION 40-71-20, RELATING TO THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN PROCEEDINGS, RECORDS, AND INFORMATION, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE CONFIDENTIALITY PROVISIONS DO NOT PREVENT COMMITTEES APPOINTED BY THE DEPARTMENT FROM ISSUING REPORTS SOLELY CONTAINING NONIDENTIFYING DATA AND INFORMATION.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 40-71-10 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 40-71-10. (A) 'Professional society' as used in this chapter includes legal, medical, osteopathic, optometric, chiropractic, psychological, dental, accounting, pharmaceutic, and engineering organizations having as members at least a majority of the eligible licentiates in the area served by the particular society and any foundations composed of members of these societies.
(B) There is no monetary liability on the part of, and no cause of action for damages arises against, a member of an appointed committee which is formed to maintain professional standards of a state or local professional society as defined in this section or an appointed member of a committee of a medical staff of a licensed hospital, provided the medical staff operates pursuant to written bylaws that have been approved by the governing board of the hospital, or a committee appointed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control to review patient medical and health records in order to study the causes of death and disease for any act or proceeding undertaken or performed within the scope of the functions of the committee if the committee member acts without malice, has made a reasonable effort to obtain the facts relating to the matter under consideration, and acts in the belief that the action taken by him is warranted by the facts known to him.
(C) The provisions of this section do not affect the official immunity of an officer or employee of a public corporation."
SECTION 2. Section 40-71-20 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 40-71-20. All proceedings of and all data and information acquired by the committee referred to in Section 40-71-10 in the exercise of its duties are confidential unless a respondent in the proceeding requests in writing that they be made public. These proceedings and documents are not subject to discovery, subpoena, or introduction into evidence in any civil action except upon appeal from the committee action. Information, documents, or records which are otherwise available from original sources are not immune from discovery or use in a civil action merely because they were presented during the committee proceedings nor shall any complainant or witness before the committee be prevented from testifying in a civil action as to matters of which he has knowledge apart from the committee proceedings or revealing such matters to third persons. Confidentiality provisions do not prevent committees appointed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control from issuing reports containing solely nonidentifying data and information."
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.