We’re developing new case review forms for our peer review process and wondered whether we should ask reviewers to assign a numerical score to various aspects of care. Do you recommend scoring cases in this way?
No! In our experience, scoring has the following drawbacks:
(1) Too much energy is spent assigning the score, which distracts from the most important questions: Is there a concern with the care provided, and if so, how can that concern be addressed?
(2) Numerical scores can’t capture the complexity of a case in the same way as a longer narrative.
(3) Physician reviewers may be uncomfortable assigning low scores which indicate that care was “inappropriate” or “below the standard,” especially if those scores are accompanied only by short statements such as “care below the standard.” As a result, they choose higher scores indicated “care appropriate” even if there are concerns.
(4) Scores may put physicians on the defensive, especially since most scoring systems don’t allow for the provision of nuanced information.
These characteristics of scoring can undermine efforts to make the peer review process educational rather than punitive. Accordingly, we recommend having a peer review/professional practice evaluation (“PPE”) system that focuses on actions and performance improvements rather than scoring.