QUESTION: In the past, our reappointment process has been rather perfunctory. The names of physicians and other practitioners who are up for reappointment get put on a list which is approved by the Credentials Committee, passed on to the Medical Executive Committee, and then forwarded to the Board in a consent agenda. What steps can we take to make our reappointment process more meaningful?
ANSWER: This is a great question. Many hospitals are like yours and muddle through the reappointment process without getting a lot of bang for their effort.
The reappointment process, which includes the renewal of appointment and clinical privileges, is an important opportunity to review and confirm that a practitioner satisfies all of the core competencies. To make the reappointment process more meaningful, you must have data. The ongoing professional practice evaluation reports that you generate for all practitioners will provide a good starting point since they evaluate competence in a variety of areas throughout the appointment term.
You should also review and consider any licensure or disciplinary action, as well as any malpractice claims, settlements, or judgments that occurred during the previous reappointment term. Of course, you should be receiving notice of and reviewing all of these events as they occur, but the reappointment is a good time to verify that the review has taken place.
It is also important that you review the clinical privileges that a practitioner is requesting at reappointment. If a practitioner has not satisfied volume requirements for a privilege or has not exercised a privilege that is volume?sensitive, the practitioner may be ineligible to seek the privilege or may be required to provide additional evidence of current clinical competence before having the privilege renewed.
And it is important to consider your other quality data at reappointment. Make sure the Credentials Committee, Medical Executive Committee and Board are aware of any peer review actions, including informational and educational letters, collegial interventions and performance improvement plans. While these activities may not affect the final reappointment decision, they may warrant that the practitioner receive a different letter at reappointment which reflects clinical or behavioral matters that are being reviewed and addressed through the peer review process.