The evolution of the medical industry has brought about many changes in the way that people live their lives and maintain their health. The large dependence upon medical professionals by people seeking medical advice has placed both of these parties in a unique situation where the trust between patient and doctor is very critical and essential to ensuring that healing can be performed. As a result of this relationship, certain guidelines have been put into place to regulate doctor's performance and behavior.
Peer review processes have developed significantly over the past thirty years that has put into place a template of regulation that helps prevent poor performance and ensure that physicians are offering their best efforts towards their patients. There are indeed problems with this process that may in fact exacerbate the health problems of the patient and ironically let bad doctors continue on with their poor practices. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the weaknesses of the peer review process within the medical industry and how confidentiality within this process is detrimental to the entire outlook as well.
The well intended idea of keeping doctors on their toes and ensuring that they do not fall into bad habits is the main purpose of the peer review process within the medical industry. To accomplish such reviews the doctors have been guaranteed a certain amount of protection by having the contents of these review not available for punishment or legal action. This protection is based on the idea that when doctor's discuss their colleague's performance the issues discussed cannot be used against the doctor in question.
According to Gallegos (2012) "the AMA's policy position is that proceedings, records, findings and recommendations of a peer review organization are not subject to discovery. In medical liability actions, the privilege protects reviews of the defendant physician's specific treatment of the plaintiff and extends to reviews of treatment the physician has provided to patients other than the plaintiff, the policy says." This special treatment of these professionals that is offered by nearly 90% of the states in this country is not beneficial for doctor nor the patient in many cases, since secrecy provides a blanket of protection that has little to no punishment mechanism for those physicians who are derelict in their duties and should not be practicing medicine.
Many of the peer reviews are bogus insufficient displays of well intended, yet ethically empty, demonstrations that serve to distort and confuse rather than bring the truth to light. Those doctors who are intent on the peer review process having a regulatory effect are considered dishonorable whistleblower that have "ratted out" their peers in an effort to make themselves look better.
This approach has real problems where patients health are suffering and unnecessarily dying prematurely. Huntoon (2011) revealed that "Although thousands of patients die every year from preventable errors which occur in hospitals, many physicians today are afraid to come forward to report problems in hospitals out of fear that their careers will be ended by a retaliatory sham peer review. Fewer and fewer physicians are willing to risk their career and livelihood to protect patients in hospitals. It is easier and far safer for physicians to simply look the other way and remain silent. "
The Need for Protection
In such a system in which the professionals themselves need some sort of public protection from their actions suggests that the problem is widespread and the causes of this idea are most likely to blame. It becomes very obvious to understand this problem when understanding how and why this group needs protection. Protection is necessary for the weak, and it is important to come to grips with the idea, that despite all the education and training doctors receive, they are still extremely vulnerable for their actions.
The professionals in this area are rational to desire this protection as the threat of malpractice suits and other legal actions are extremely likely in this day and age where law suits are common place for seemingly no good reason. The interaction of the medical and the legal system are also important to realize to synthesize this problem in a whole and rational manner. When understanding the self-interest of the parties involved, the…