In the wake of recent high-profile excessive force incidents, police departments are being pressured by the public for greater accountability and transparency in law enforcement. Police departments, cities, towns, and other municipalities have become subject to seemingly endless scrutiny, and they have seen a sharp rise in law enforcement watchdog groups, media coverage, investigations by the Department of Justice, and protests. Police Departments have responded with police-worn body-cameras, but they have still seen an increase in cases of citizens using cell phones and other devices to record police encounters. But, is that legal?
In July, we updated you on the controversial New Jersey Tax Court decision AHS Hospital Corp. d/b/a Morristown Memorial Hospital v. Town of Morristown, which revoked the tax-exempt status of the nonprofit hospital. On January 19, 2016, Governor Chris Christie pocket vetoed an attempt at legislative intervention. Many are now speculating that the state may be in for a wave of litigation.
On June 30, 2015, the New Jersey Tax Court released its decision in the case of AHS Hospital Corp d/b/a/ Morristown Memorial Hospital v. Town of Morristown.¹ The Court determined that AHS Hospital Corp., d/b/a Morristown Memorial Hospital (“Hospital”) was not eligible for property tax exemptions under New Jersey law as a non-profit corporation.
Over the past few years, the New Jersey Board of Nursing has become very active in reviewing medical malpractice lawsuits involving nurses. The Board reviews these cases after the underlying action is completed. The Board was provided specific statutory authority to review cases to evaluate whether the nurse involved was guilty of professional misconduct and if so, to order penalties assessed to the nurse’s license to practice.
Often times, a plaintiff’s attorney argues at commencement of suit that they were not provided with all of his or her client’s medical records, diagnostic films, operative reports, etc. Additionally, the lawyer is generally provided a certification from a medical records custodian at the hospital or doctor’s office declaring that the records responsive to the request are full and complete.
The New Jersey Supreme Court is currently considering the scope of the Charitable Immunity Act and its application to hospitals and medical facilities offering charity services. At issue in the case is the applicability of two statutes under the Charitable Immunity Act: N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7 and -8. Under Section 7, nonprofit entities organized exclusively for religious, charitable, educational, or hospital purposes cannot be held liable for negligence where the person injured is a beneficiary of these services.
Finally, the New Jersey Supreme Court has reevaluated the requirements for qualifications necessary for an expert witness to offer an opinion against a fellow physician.
Hospitals typically organize committees, comprised of physicians and other direct care providers, to present and evaluate cases resulting in poor outcomes in order to enhance future patient care. Legislation governing these “peer review” committees can be found in the New Jersey Patient Safety Act (“PSA”), N.J.S.A. 26:2H-12.23, et seq. The PSA requires licensed health care facilities, including hospitals, to develop patient safety plans to improve patient care.