A critique of the use of generic screening in quality assessment

JAMA. 1991 Apr 17;265(15):1977-81.


This article summarizes available information on the efficiency and effectiveness of generic occurrence screening when used in quality assessment. Generic screening is relatively inefficient because of its multitiered review system and high rates of errors and false positives. Overall sensitivity may approach 70% to 80%, but specificity is estimated to range from about 22% to 73%. Effectiveness of generic screening in identifying problems in quality is limited by variability in peer review. Other limitations of generic screens include their lack of inherent relationship to the quality of patient care and their inability to provide direct performance measures for use in the periodic reappraisal of clinical privileges of medical staff members. We propose the monitoring of specific adverse surgical and medical clinical outcomes and related risk factors to increase efficiency in quality assessment and provide a more adequate database for the continual improvement of patient care and clinical performance.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / standards*
  • Observer Variation
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Peer Review
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Risk Management / organization & administration*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United States
  • Utilization Review / organization & administration*