April 20, 2023

Our peer review committee recently developed a plan for a physician that involved proctoring of a number of the physician’s cases.  It came up in our meeting as to whether patients had to be informed that their physician is being proctored.  Is this required?

Proctoring is part of the confidential peer review/professional practice evaluation process.  But, as a practical matter, patients may need to be made aware of the fact that another physician may be involved in their care.  Proctoring – whether in surgical or non-surgical situations – often includes not only review of the patient’s medical record but also an examination of the patient, which means that some explanation regarding that individual’s presence must be provided.  While not always the case, if proctors are instructed to intervene in a surgical procedure if necessary, the patient should be in­formed that the proctor may participate in the procedure and that information should be included in the patient’s written consent to the procedure.

While it is the proctored physician’s responsibility to inform his or her patients about the proctoring, the patient does not have to be informed of the reason for the proctoring.  A simple statement will suffice, such as:  “The hospital and our team are committed to providing appropriate care.  Dr. Proctor will also be [working with me/may examine you/review your medical record/scrub in and be ready to assist in your procedure if necessary].”

Finally, documentation completed by the proctor should not be included in the patient’s medical record.  We recommend that proctors be provided with “proctoring forms” that elicit information in as objective a format as possible about the issues that are being assessed, and that these forms be maintained as part of the hospital’s peer review/professional practice evaluation process – not as clinical records maintained in the medical record.