Patient Removes Tracheostomy Tube; Court Rules RCAs Are Protected from Discovery in Kentucky

May 4, 2022 | Strategic Insights for Health System


A hospital patient underwent surgery for a torn labrum (the cartilage lining of a ball-and-socket joint). Following the surgery, he experienced complications after being extubated, including difficulty breathing, and was transferred to the intensive care unit. His breathing improved, and he was transferred to a lower level of care. However, he pulled out his tracheostomy tube and suffered cardiopulmonary arrest. Although he was successfully resuscitated, he died a few days later.

His estate brought suit for medical negligence and requested production of any "incident report, sentinel event report, root cause analysis, or peer review" prepared in the aftermath of the patient's death. Initially, the hospital produced a root cause analysis (RCA) subject to a protective order. However, when the Kentucky legislature amended a statute that had previously allowed the admission of certain privileged documents, the hospital sought a writ of prohibition (an "extraordinary" remedy that...

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