by Thomas F. Dwyer, MD

The Colorado Professional Review Act or CPRA was established to promote patient safety through peer assessment. As physicians we are positioned to evaluate the care patients received much better than the court system. We not only have an obligation to care for patients, we have a duty to continually improve the care provided. We must learn from mistakes and system failures in a way that promotes safety and accountability of both people and systems. While one individual or a small group of individuals may benefit financially when care is evaluated through the court system, it is our patients, their families, our peers, our staff, our students and us as individuals who benefit when peer review is conducted in an effective manner.

A protected peer review process allows practitioners the opportunity to give and receive candid feedback. This feedback is shared peer to peer and, when appropriate, with the hospital and systems we depend on to provide care. This very important feedback provides education, it corrects system shortcomings, improves the environment, and promotes learning, growth and development. Best of all it helps keep our patients safe and allows us to practice
high-quality medicine.

Without the Colorado Professional Review Act, physicians may be disincentivized to self-report. They may also choose not to report possible concerns regarding colleagues. This has the potential to stifle patient safety, limit reviews and squash the system we use to provide each other with candid, open and constructive feedback.

As providers we spent our lives learning how to take care of patients, providing care to our community, and working to make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families. We do this work because we care about people and the quality of their lives. We value the trust placed in us and feel a great sense of responsibility to continually improve the care delivery system and to ensure that each person has the best possible outcome. The Colorado Professional Review Act helps us to learn from each other through a trusting, safe environment, where we know our peers have the same mission to provide great care and always strive to be better.

Having frank conversations with our peers may seem simple and obvious but it takes courage to ask for help, advice and constructive criticism. The Colorado Professional Review Act allows for trusting, safe environment, where we can be vulnerable so our patients do not have to be. The legal protections provided by the act allow us to be open, collegial, reflective; without these protections physicians are more inclined to be defensive, guarded and reactionary. What type of provider would you want taking care of your loved one? I know I prefer my physicians to be open, to admit mistakes, to continually learn, to be reflective and to seek the advice of their colleagues.

Dr. Dwyer is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in general orthopedics. He joined Western Slope Orthopedics in 2001 after completing residency and fellowship training at the University of Colorado. In training, Dr. Dwyer participated in, presented, and published award-winning research projects involving total knee replacement and spine care. He has extensive experience in the surgical treatment of arthritis, sports related injuries, fractures, and other disorders of the upper and lower extremities. Dr. Dwyer truly enjoys the Montrose community. Away from work, he enjoys spending time with his wife Tanya and their three boys fly fishing, hiking, skiing and riding horses.

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine