Holly A. Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., Peter J. Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., Ruth R. Faden, Ph.D., M.P.H., Nancy E. Kass, Sc.D., and Jeremy Sugarman, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.
H. A. Taylor, P. J. Pronovost, R. R. Faden et al., The Ethical Review of Health Care Quality Improvement Initiatives: Findings from the Field, The Commonwealth Fund, August 2010.
Questions have been raised about whether and how health care quality improvement (QI) initiatives ought to be reviewed to address possible ethical issues associated with them. These questions have focused primarily on whether some QI initiatives meet the regulatory criteria for human subject research and should therefore be regulated and reviewed as such. Based on surveys of health care system professionals conducting QI initiatives and hospital CEOs, this issue brief finds that QI initiatives are routinely reviewed by a variety of internal mechanisms prior to implementation, although rarely through an institutional review board or another independent body charged specifically with ethical oversight of QI initiatives. Further research, the authors say, is needed to achieve a better understanding of how review mechanisms for QI initiatives are structured, including information on who reviews these activities, how they are reviewed, and whether such processes include an ethical assessment of the proposed QI initiative.