Peer Feedback, Learning, and Improvement: Answering the Call of the Institute of Medicine Report on Diagnostic Error

Radiology. 2017 Apr;283(1):231-241. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2016161254. Epub 2016 Sep 27.


In September 2015, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report titled "Improving Diagnosis in Health Care," in which it was recommended that "health care organizations should adopt policies and practices that promote a nonpunitive culture that values open discussion and feedback on diagnostic performance." It may seem counterintuitive that a report addressing a highly technical skill such as medical diagnosis would be focused on organizational culture. The wisdom becomes clearer, however, when examined in the light of recent advances in the understanding of human error and individual and organizational performance. The current dominant model for radiologist performance improvement is scoring-based peer review, which reflects a traditional quality assurance approach, derived from manufacturing in the mid-1900s. Far from achieving the goals of the IOM, which are celebrating success, recognizing mistakes as an opportunity to learn, and fostering openness and trust, we have found that scoring-based peer review tends to drive radiologists inward, against each other, and against practice leaders. Modern approaches to quality improvement focus on using and enhancing interpersonal professional relationships to achieve and maintain high levels of individual and organizational performance. In this article, the authors review the recommendations set forth by the recent IOM report, discuss the science and theory that underlie several of those recommendations, and assess how well they fit with the current dominant approach to radiology peer review. The authors also offer an alternative approach to peer review: peer feedback, learning, and improvement (or more succinctly, "peer learning"), which they believe is better aligned with the principles promoted by the IOM. © RSNA, 2016.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Errors / prevention & control*
  • Formative Feedback*
  • Humans
  • National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, U.S., Health and Medicine Division*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Peer Review / methods*
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Radiology / standards*
  • United States