Climate Change Project

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Peer review is the review of a physician's professional competence by another physician or group of physicians. In most circumstances, this review is done privately rather than under the authority of state or federal law. Peer review is a contentious process. It cannot be both effective and collegial because the stakes in medical practice are too high: an adverse peer review decision can destroy a practice, but overly solicitous peer review can endanger patients' lives. While physicians resist the substitution of state regulation for private peer review, the conflicts of interest inherent in private peer review make it legally risky. This chapter reviews the basic legal constraints on peer review and how these are modified by federal law. Chapter 19 discusses how to conduct legally defensible peer review.

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