Carmel, CA Possible Dire Unintended Consequences To Health Care Reform Laws?by Richard Kuehn on 10/28/12
Health care reform is requiring more disclosure in a move designed to improve patient care and allow the government to compare how the quality of care stacks up amongst various providers. But transparency has its costs. A recent study found that in states where health care providers were required to report the outcomes of procedures to open blocked arteries, heart attack patients are less likely to receive treatments than those who lived in states which didn't have these disclosure laws. The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that public disclosures could actually backfire rather than improving the quality of care. One physician who was interviewed speculated that doctors were denying care to extremely sick patients in order to raise their patient outcome ratios. In other words, since a physician's pay is being linked to successful treatment of the patients, they may not treat those who are unlikely to survive, in order to increase their pay. "The study highlights the unintended consequences of public reporting," Dr. Hitinder Gurm told the reporter. Hopefully this isn't the reason for the outcome of this study. It's hard to believe that physicians would really be that callous. This possibility, however, will have to be closely monitored as health care reform rules take effect.