Ask the expert: The importance of peer review process

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, October 23, 2009

This week, Laura Cook Harrington, RN, MHS, CPHQ, CHCQM, discusses the importance of a peer review and how it is important for the nurses and the patients.

Q: How can I reiterate how important the peer review process is to staff?

A: Peer review is about nurses taking responsibility for their practice and about nurses evaluating nurses. It is about raising the standards of practice for all, and ultimately about providing the best care we can for our patients.

If the profession of nursing does not focus on nurse performance— if nursing peer review programs are nonexistent or ineffective— then we run the risk of other entities taking control of the process for us. The best solution to this problem is to create or strengthen the nursing peer review.

The goals and benefits of peer review include:

  • Improving the quality of care provided by individual nurses
  • Monitoring the performance of nurses
  • Identifying opportunities for performance improvement
  • Identifying system wide issues

As the nursing profession embraces efforts to improve practice, it must also embrace the concept of evaluating individual standards and quality-of-care issues. Peer review allows such an evaluation in a safe, nonpunitive environment. It allows nurses to take control of their practice and to decide with their peers the standards to which they will hold themselves.

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