Clinical peer review in the United States: History, legal development and subsequent abuse.
World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jun 7;20(21):6357-63
Authors: Vyas D, Hozain AE
The Joint Commission on Accreditation requires hospitals to conduct peer review to retain accreditation. Despite the intended purpose of improving quality medical care, the peer review process has suffered several setbacks throughout its tenure. In the 1980s, abuse of peer review for personal economic interest led to a highly publicized multimillion-dollar verdict by the United States Supreme Court against the perpetrating physicians and hospital. The verdict led to decreased physician participation for fear of possible litigation. Believing that peer review was critical to quality medical care, Congress subsequently enacted the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA) granting comprehensive legal immunity for peer reviewers to increase participation. While serving its intended goal, HCQIA has also granted peer reviewers significant immunity likely emboldening abuses resulting in Sham Peer Reviews. While legal reform of HCQIA is necessary to reduce sham peer reviews, further measures including the need for standardization of the peer review process alongside external organizational monitoring are critical to improving peer review and reducing the prevalence of sham peer reviews.
PMID: 24914357 [PubMed - in process]