ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — Attorneys for two South Dakota hospitals and several doctors say hospitals shouldn't have to turn over documents related to doctor performance even when there's evidence they committed fraud against patients.

The Argus Leader reports that the case being decided by the state Supreme Court is tied to that of a spine surgeon accused of performing dozens of unnecessary surgeries on unsuspecting patients.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Anderson ruled last year that plaintiffs suing the doctors and hospitals should have access to certain materials used by hospital peer review committees to review physicians' performance. He said the statute that protects the disclosure of those materials can be breached under a crime-fraud exception.

Anderson is overseeing over 30 lawsuits against Dr. Allen Sossan, who is accused of killing and injuring patients in Yankton between 2008 and 2012.

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