Question of the Week

Our bylaws say that new medical staff members are “provisional” for at least 12 months, sometimes for 24 months.  Is this the same thing as focused professional practice evaluation?

No – or at least it shouldn’t be!  Focused professional practice evaluation (“FPPE”) is the Joint Commission terminology for the period of focused review that is required for following the grant of any new clinical privileges as the way of confirming practitioner competence – this means a focused review of all privileges for new applicants and all new privileges for existing practitioners (i.e., increases in privileges).  FPPE can be accomplished in many different ways – chart review, proctoring/direct observation, external reviews, even discussions with others who are involved in the care of the individual’s patients.  The Joint Commission does not mandate the duration of FPPE for any practitioner and, in fact, have specifically noted in the past that using a traditional 12-month provisional period as the time frame for performing FPPE could be overly burdensome for practitioners who had high volumes.

To that end, there is no requirement that hospitals and medical staffs maintain a provisional appointment status, though we do still see many hospitals that continue to utilize that status, generally as a way to assess the “citizenship” aspects of medical staff appointment – like behavior, attendance at and participation in medical staff affairs, completion of medical records, fulfillment of call obligations, etc.  In addition, at the same time, but generally for a much shorter duration, all new members are subjected to FPPE, the requirements of which depend on the practitioner’s specialty and clinical privileges.  The key is to understand that if a medical staff is going to maintain a provisional status or process, it should be addressed separately from the FPPE to confirm competence process.