VPQHC Peer Review Network Overview
What is the VPQHC Peer Review Network?
A priority of Vermont’s hospitals is to enhance and improve the peer review of their medical staff. Due to the small size of many Vermont hospitals, peer review committees are frequently challenged to find peers to review the quality of the services provided by their medical staff members. Many hospitals have physicians on their active staff for whom there is no peer, or the only available peers have a conflict of interest, such as being in practice with the individual they are to review. In addition, at times internal peer reviews lack a strong consensus, or conclusions are reached that are conflicting, or ambiguous, and which would benefit from an external eye.
In 2001, in an effort to make peers more widely available to Vermont hospital peer review committees, Vermont’s hospitals and the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care established a statewide peer review network from which hospitals may draw physicians to conduct or assist in peer reviews. Hospitals may draw from the network for a peer review to help improve the quality of care provided by medical staff, monitor the performance of medical staff, or identify areas for performance improvement.
Under 26 V.S.A. §1443, proceedings, reports and information shared as part of a peer review committee’s activity shall be confidential and privileged and shall not be disclosed in any court proceeding or otherwise unless authorized by the peer review committee. All activities related to the statewide peer review pool shall be conducted under appropriate peer review committee procedures to maintain the confidentiality and privilege of the peer review process as provided by Vermont statute, 26 V.S.A. §1441-1443.
How is confidentiality for the VPQHC Peer Review Network maintained?
The work convened by VPQHC in establishing a statewide physician pool is protected under peer review confidentiality. Additionally, all physician participants sign a confidentiality agreement as a member of the VPQHC statewide physician peer review network, and enter into a separate peer review committee contract with any individual hospital with whom he or she contracts to provide specific peer review services. All contracts between hospitals and individual physician pool participants are structured such that the physician pool participant receives and reports information to the appropriate hospital peer review committee thereby invoking that hospital’s peer review committee protection.
More information about the VPQHC Peer Review Network can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section.