Credentialing, Certification, and Peer Review Essentials for the Neurosurgeon



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World Neurosurgery


Credentialing and certification are essential processes during hiring to ensure that the physician is competent and possesses the qualifications and skill sets claimed. Peer review ensures the continuing evolution of these skills to meet a standard of care. We have provided an overview and discussion of these processes in the United States. Credentialing is the process by which a physician is determined to be competent and able to practice, used to ensure that medical staff meets specific standards, and to grant operative privileges at an institution. Certification is a standardized affirmation of a physician's competence on a nationwide basis. Although not legally required to practice in the United States, many institutions emphasize certification for full privileges on an ongoing basis at a hospital. In the United States, peer review of adverse events is a mandatory prerequisite for accreditation. The initial lack of standardization led to the development of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act, which protects those involved in the peer review process from litigation, and the National Provider Databank, which was established as a national database to track misconduct. A focus on quality improvement in the peer review process can lead to improved performance and patient outcomes. A thorough understanding of the processes of credentialing, certification, and peer review in the United States will benefit neurosurgeons by allowing them to know what institutions are looking for as well and their rights and responsibilities in any given situation. It could also be useful to compare these policies and practices in the United States to those in other countries.

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