Study: Peer Interventions Reduce Patient Complaints of Physicians

A peer intervention program may reduce unsafe physician behavior and related patient complaints, according to a study in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

The Center for Professional and Patient Advocacy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., designed a peer messenger process to improve the behavior of physicians identified by unsolicited patient complaints as performing unsafe and dissatisfying behavior.

From 2005 through 2009, 178 peer messenger physicians at 16 community and academic medical centers intervened with 373 high-risk physicians.

Ninety-seven percent of the high-risk physicians received feedback professionally. Sixty-four percent of these physicians, called "responders," subsequently changed their behavior, improving their risk scores at least 15 percent. In contrast, 17 percent of the physicians who did not respond to the intervention worsened their risk scores, and 19 percent did not change their scores.

Physicians who responded to the feedback were more likely to practice in medicine and surgery than emergency medicine, have longer organizational tenure and engage in longer first-time intervention meetings with messengers compared with nonresponders, according to the study.

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