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Protecting And Preserving The Peer Review

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Protecting and Preserving the Peer Review Privilege - Solutions for Corporate Counsel Representing Hospitals, Health Care Corporations, and Health Care Providers
I.INTRODUCTION
Health care providers are generally familiar with the doctor-patient privilege, which protects information exchanged between physician and patient for the purposes of rendering or receiving health care services. The peer review privilege is similar, except that it protects communications that occur in connection with the peer review process where health care providers review and critique both specific and general elements of health care with the overall goal of health care improvement. This chapter will explore what peer review is, why it needs to be protected, the
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See id. Peer review is used to review the qualifications and credentials of health care providers to determine whether they may practice in a particular hospital and, if so, under what parameters. Peer review, in this regard, is also a critical part of the determination that a physician or other health care provider should not be allowed to practice, in whole or in part.
The earliest known peer review can be traced to the American College of Surgeons. In 1918, the College sought to standardize hospitals, organize medical staffs, and set minimum standards. See Maureen Glabman, The Future for Peer Review, Trustee Magazine, available here. In the first half of the twentieth century, the medical profession developed peer review as a way to review the quality of the care rendered by physicians and surgeons. In 1952, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (now the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, or JCAHO), began to require hospitals to perform peer review to qualify for accreditation. See Susan O. Scheutzow, State Medical Peer Review: High Cost But No Benefit - Is it Time for a Change?, 25 AM. J.L. & MED. 7, 12-13 (1999). Over the second half of the twentieth century, medical peer review developed into the primary method of evaluating the quality of physician services at hospitals. See id.
Today, peer review is performed in a variety of settings, such as part of the quality
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