It is expected that every month the providers in my practice participate in a peer review process. Each provider is assigned four patient randomly selected patient names for review. During the month, every clinician must complete a form for each patient that includes information related to treatment, diagnosis, plan, follow-up and health maintenance needs addressed during the visit. The goal of the peer reviewers is to determine if patients received acceptable medical care.
I value the process of peer review. In fact, as a recent graduate, it is a process that I find comforting. I’ve become used to evaluation as part of my education, and enjoy hearing the opinion of other professionals as to whether or not I had chosen the right diagnosis or plan of care.
If executed properly, peer-review exercises can lead to improvements in patient care and prevent adverse patient outcomes. As health-care providers, we should never underestimate the power of collaboration — it is such an integral aspect of medicine that it is unlikely that quality health care can be delivered without it.
The peer review process fosters collaboration between physician assistants, nurse practitioners and physicians, enabling us to exchange our knowledge and experience, and grow as health-care providers. Peer review is also an avenue for providers to seek support and discuss difficult patient encounters in a profession that rarely permits this.
As the shortage of primary care providers improves with more midlevel clinicians entering the field, participating in a peer review process will become increasingly important and essential to both patient and provider satisfaction.
Leigh Montejo, MSN, FNP-BC, provides health care to underserved populations at the Metropolitan Community Health Service’s Agape Clinic in Washington, North Carolina.