Hospitals and many other entities are required to track adverse events, and most now use incident reporting software for this purpose, writes Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
According to one software developer, “The key to reporting more events is having a system that allows the staff to report events easily and quickly and not feel that the information is being used punitively.” However, writes Dr. Huntoon, the system can be abused for purposes other than furthering quality medical care—for sham peer review.
“As incident reporting software enables anonymous reporting, it offers the perfect vehicle for filing false and malicious complaints against physicians or others for the purpose of harming them.”
If a hospital introduces the existence of a software incident report at a peer review hearing and keeps the specific charges secret from the accused physician and provides no opportunity to cross-examine the accuser, it is a blatant violation of due-process rights, Dr. Huntoon explains.
Medical staff bylaws might contain a dangerous provision that only requires that a physician be informed of the “general nature of charges” against him. He may not be able to refute specific charges because has not been informed of what they are, Dr. Huntoon states.
He asks: “Did software developers engage in deceptive marketing practices, touting the benefits of anonymous reporting using their software without disclosing the risks of abuse?”
“The question of holding software developers liable for damage to the careers of good physicians requires further consideration,” he suggests.
The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.
Full Article: https://jpands.org/vol27no3/huntoon.pdf