Justices question Denver hospital’s desire to suppress public records in patient injury lawsuit

Colorado Politics: Although the state’s health department released confidential hospital documents inadvertently in response to an open records request, Colorado’s Supreme Court justices appeared hesitant on Wednesday to overturn a Denver judge’s order that prevented the facility from blocking former patients from using them in a lawsuit.

Porter Adventist Hospital in central Denver, which Centura Health operates, is defending against a lawsuit by more than 200 former patients and, in some cases, their surviving spouses, who allege injuries from improperly sterilized surgical equipment. In responding to an open records request in 2018 from the plaintiffs’ attorneys, other law firms and the media, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released hospital documents that Porter Adventist considered confidential because they contained quality management details.

CDPHE and the attorney general’s office conceded this was a mistake, and Porter Adventist asked Denver District Court Judge Morris B. Hoffman for a protective order preventing the plaintiffs from using the released documents in their lawsuit. Hoffman said the hospital had not clearly laid out why it deserved confidentially, or privilege, for each document.

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