Aurora claims that the documents are protected under the state's peer review statute, according to the petition filed last week in Milwaukee.
Peer-review committees review medical errors and other adverse events at hospitals and other health care settings. Their work typically is kept confidential to encourage staff to report errors and to enable the committee to examine the cause of such errors without the risk of their work being subpoenaed in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The petition seeking the Aurora records is heavily redacted and doesn't provide details about the investigation. But the petition does say the probe is into possible violations of the False Claims Act.
Aurora declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.
The U.S. Attorney initially requested the documents on Jan. 31. To date, Aurora has produced 1,260 records totaling 61,800 pages. More than 300 of the records, totaling 51,700 pages, were medical records.
Aurora claims that Wisconsin peer-review law bars it from producing the remaining documents and that the documents were "created in order to help improve the quality of health care," according to the petition.
The U.S. Attorney's position is that state law does not apply in a federal matter and federal common law does not recognize a peer review privilege that would prevent documents from being subpoenaed in an investigation.