QUESTION: Our hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission. When we perform FPPE to confirm competence for new Medical Staff members, we typically evaluate the physician’s first five cases. We’ve recently heard rumblings that this may no longer be acceptable. What’s up?
ANSWER: Based on recent reports from hospitals, it appears that Joint Commission surveyors are requiring hospitals to be more rigorous in how they perform FPPE to confirm competence.
The point of FPPE for new physicians is to confirm that a physician who looks good on paper (via the credentialing process) looks just as good in actual practice. FPPE can have the added benefit of helping new physicians become familiar with the hospital (e.g., through conversations with proctors about standard operating procedures, etc.).
Evaluating a physician’s first five cases may not give the hospital a realistic view of the physician’s practice. For example, if the physician is a general surgeon and those first five cases are all appendectomies, the hospital would have no confirmation of how well the physician performs other, unrelated procedures.
Fortunately, groups of privileges may require similar skills and judgment. Thus, the evaluation of a practitioner’s ability to exercise one privilege may be used to confirm a practitioner’s ability to perform one or more other privileges. These are sometimes referred to as “Index Privileges.”
Thus, while FPPE to confirm competence should generally include more than a physician’s first five cases, there’s no need to individually evaluate every privilege a physician has been granted. Instead, hospitals can identify groups of privileges that require similar skills, and use those groupings to help them confirm that a physician is competent to perform all the privileges that have been granted.