A. The Health Practitioners' Monitoring Program Committee shall consist of nine persons appointed by the Director to advise and assist in the operation of the Program, of whom eight shall be licensed, certified, or registered practitioners and one shall be a citizen member. Of the members who are licensed, certified, or registered practitioners, at least one shall be licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy in Virginia and engaged in active clinical practice, at least one shall be a registered nurse engaged in active practice, and all shall be knowledgeable about impairment and rehabilitation, particularly as related to the monitoring of health care practitioners. The Committee shall have the following powers and duties:
1. To determine, in accordance with the regulations, eligibility to enter into the Program;
2. To determine, in accordance with the regulations, those Program participants who are eligible for stayed disciplinary action;
3. To enter into written contracts with practitioners which may include, among other terms and conditions, withdrawal from practice or limitations on the scope of the practice for a period of time;
4. To report to the Director and the health regulatory boards as necessary on the status of applicants for and participants in the Program;
5. To report to the Director, at least annually, on the performance of the Program; and
6. To assist the Director in carrying out the provisions of this chapter.
B. Records of the Program, to the extent such records identify individual practitioners in the Program, shall be privileged and confidential, and shall not be disclosed consistent with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.). Such records shall be used only in the exercise of the proper functions as set forth in this chapter and shall not be public records nor shall such records be subject to court order, except as provided in subdivision C 4, or be subject to discovery or introduction as evidence in any civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings except those conducted by a health regulatory board.
C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection B and of subdivision 11 of § 2.2-3705.5, the Committee may disclose such records relative to an impaired practitioner only:
1. When disclosure of the information is essential to the monitoring needs of the impaired practitioner;
2. When release of the information has been authorized in writing by the impaired practitioner;
3. To a health regulatory board within the Department of Health Professions; or
4. When an order by a court of competent jurisdiction has been granted, upon a showing of good cause therefor, including the need to avert a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm. In assessing good cause, the court shall weigh the public interest and the need for disclosure against the injury to the patient, to the physician-patient relationship, and to the treatment services. Upon the granting of such order, the court, in determining the extent to which any disclosure of all or any part of any record is necessary, shall impose appropriate protections against unauthorized disclosures.
D. Pursuant to subdivision A 24 of § 2.2-3711, the proceedings of the Committee which in any way pertain or refer to a specific practitioner who may be, or who is actually, impaired and who may be or is, by reason of such impairment, subject to disciplinary action by the relevant board shall be excluded from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) and may be closed. Such proceedings shall be privileged and confidential.
E. The members of the Committee shall be immune from liability resulting from the exercise of the powers and duties of the Committee as provided in § 8.01-581.13.
1997, c. 439; 1999, cc. 703, 726; 2004, c. 690; 2009, c. 472; 2016, c. 105.