Publishing Physician Death Statistics Threatens Patient Access to Innovative Care

Minneapolis, Minnesota -- The Massachusetts health department decision to publish death rates for individual heart surgeons bodes poorly for patients, says Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC).

CCHC notes a Northwestern study that found physician report cards in New York led to worse outcomes, especially for sicker patients, as reported in The New York Times in March 2003.

Twila Brase, president of CCHC, makes the following statement:

"Physician report cards threaten patient access to medical treatment. Doctors who fear that the death of a patient will be a black mark against them have been found to avoid the patients that need them the most. Increasingly, patients may find doctors unwilling to try a risky procedure that could actually save them."

"Physician report cards needlessly undermine patient confidence in the medical profession. These score cards don't tell the whole truth, and can mislead the public. Report cards are long on data and short on detail, leaving out most of the essential situational and individual patient details needed to fully assess the whys and the wherefores of the outcome."

"Ultimately, if physician score cards proliferate across the nation, Americans risk losing access to medical innovation. Doctors that have their outcomes reported and their treatment decisions diced and sliced and put under the bureaucratic microscope will be less likely to innovate, think outside the box, or try new but sometimes risky procedures to help their patients."



Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President
Phone: 651-646-8935 (office)