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A history of peer review and what we can learn from the past

“Those that forget history are condemned to repeat it.” —George Santayana

With a new year comes a strong desire to look back at the events of the past, especially as we evaluate the potential impact they can have on our future.

I am currently preparing a lecture on the progress of healthcare quality evaluation based on extensive research and my personal involvement with the quality movement over the last 30 years. This month’s column will summarize some of the major milestones impacting the evolution of hospital-based peer review during the 20th century, and how that set the stage for 21st-century peer review. My intent is to consider the elements that have worked—and those that haven’t—and the lessons we should take with us as we go forward in the hopes of continuously improving the healthcare we provide.

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