Physicians who suffer irreparable harm to professional reputation and career as a result of unfair, bad-faith peer review have little recourse, writes Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., in the winter issue of the of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
Litigation is a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome, he writes. Given the strong immunity provided by the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA) and State laws, perpetrators of sham peer review may have good reason to believe they will never be held accountable for their wrongful actions in a court of law.
“There is, however, another option for fighting back—filing complaints with professional boards against the perpetrators of sham peer review for professional misconduct.”
It is professional misconduct, Dr. Huntoon writes, to knowingly bring false/fabricated charges against a physician; to knowingly violate medical staff bylaws that are intended to provide due process/fundamental fairness to the accused physician, to leak confidential peer review information outside of peer review committees so as to harm or disparage the accused physician, or to make standard-of-care decisions outside the scope of the peer reviewer’s training and expertise.
Physicians who participate in sham peer review have no immunity against having to explain their actions to a medical board, and if found culpable, being sanctioned accordingly. A medical licensure board is required to process all complaints it receives.
Administrators who participate in sham peer review and who belong to the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) can be reported to ACHE to assess whether they have violated the organization’s code of ethics.
“When licensed physicians or members of ACHE violate professional codes of conduct, they must be held accountable in the interest of just accountability and for the health and well-being of patients,” Dr. Huntoon concludes.
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.
Read Article in Journal: https://www.jpands.org/vol27no4/huntoon.pdf