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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 23 No 2 (2006) Regulating Health Practitioners

Peer Review as an Outmoded Model for Health Practitioner Regulation

David Thomas is an Honorary Associate, School of Policy and Practice, Faculty of Education, University of Sydney, Australia.

The author traces the emergence of the peer review principle and the rationale for the way it has been incorporated into medical regulatory regimes. He argues that the conditions which produced those regimes have been radically altered during the late 20th and early 21st centuries by demands for greater medical and governmental accoun­tability for the functioning of health systems. It is contended that because governments in particular tend to be punished by their electorates when health systems fail, they are likely to decrease their reliance on peer review as the basis for medical regulation. The article concludes that since it is also being questioned by the comparatively young but powerfully supported patient safety movement, peer review is an increasingly outmoded model of medical regulation.

   
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