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Committee Reviews and Advises on Cases of Alleged Unprofessional Behavior as Alternative to Formal Investigation, Leading to Improvements in Physician Behavior
Each of the three hospitals within the University of Pennsylvania Health System has a Professionalism Committee that can handle cases of alleged disruptive, unprofessional behavior by a physician, as an alternative to a formal investigation under medical staff bylaws. Any party can bring an issue to the committee chair, who then contacts the department chair of the individual in question to gather information. Based on input from the committee chair, the department chair decides if the case should proceed to the Professionalism Committee or be addressed in a different manner. For cases that proceed, the committee chair meets with the individual and recommends the appropriate next step (e.g., treatment, coaching, referral for formal investigation, corrective action), with the department chair making the final decision on how to proceed. The program has been widely accepted, as indicated by rapid growth in the number of formal and informal cases referred to or discussed with the committee chair. It has also succeeded in changing physician behavior, as evidenced by the low number of repeat referrals to the committee and multiple anecdotal reports about positive changes in behavior among physicians referred to it.
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