Sample bylaws language on indemnification for physicians engaged in peer review

There is good protection for individuals who engage in peer review activities, including proctors, and one type of protection comes in the form of legal immunity from damages. This immunity is provided under federal law—the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA)—and it is often reinforced by similar state statutes. However, although these statutes can prevent monetary damage judgments against participants in legitimate peer review, they cannot keep lawsuits from being filed. Therefore, most hospitals explicitly agree to indemnify medical staff members for performing peer review work on behalf of the institution. Such indemnification covers the legal expenses of the proctor should he or she be named in a lawsuit, and it typically covers any judgment against the proctor as long as he or she conducted his or her peer review duties appropriately. It is common to find in the medical staff bylaws the hospital’s commitment to indemnify medical staff members for their legitimate medical staff work. If such a statement is not found in the bylaws, a medical executive committee may want a letter from the hospital board that confirms indemnification of medical staff members as institutional policy.

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