Three Falsehoods Refuted


May 30, 2013


The health care reform debate is littered with false statements. Truth is hard to come by. However, several recent news stories counter a whole series of mistruths and half-truths. Here are just three falsehoods -- there are many more, including one countered in our news release below -- and the new facts and findings that counter the false claims:

  • FALSE: "Patient satisfaction" scores improve patient care. The scores have little to do with the efforts of doctors and nurses. A new study on "patient experience" found that only 3% of the executives at 1,072 hospitals said physicians or other clinicians have primary responsibility and direct accountability for the patient's experience. 26% said a "committee" is responsible. That's right. A committee. Patient care, cure or comfort wasn't even listed as a reason executives push for a "great patient experience."
Texas physician Reid B. Blackwelder, M.D., spurns the entire concept: "Patients shouldn't have an experience. They have problems that need to be solved. The phrase is too slick and avoids what it's about, which is we take care of [patients] and minimize the risks."
  • FALSE: Quality reporting improves patient care. Despite all assertions to the contrary, the paperwork burden of a growing list of government checklists and reporting requirements detracts from patient care. A recent letter from three hospitals affected by Hurricane Sandy to the federal government shows just how true this is.
Although data reporting was waived for the Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) and Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) programs, the hospitals asked for a six-month reprieve from FOUR other federal reporting systems and TWO federal scoring systems to protect against "reputational and financial penalties" and to "ensure that hospitals have the flexibility to direct resources toward caring for patients who suffered during disasters, as well as toward internal disaster recovery efforts."
  • FALSE: Patients involved in "shared decision making" will cut costs. Shared decision making (SDM) was supposed to reduce health care costs. However, a new study finds that patients involved in SDM spend 5% more time in the hospital and incurred 6% higher costs. With 35 million hospitalizations each year, the 30% of patients interested in shared decision making would mean $8.7 billion of additional costs per year, according to the study.
SDM is required under Obamacare, and despite the additional costs now, we have concerned that the videos used for SDM will eventually be used to convince people to ration their own care, especially at the end of life. To that point, use of SDM is a reportable "quality measure" for Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). To push SDM, the Medicare Administration has recently given $26 million to a national collaborative and $36.1 million to a consortium of health care systems. 
Think twice before accepting news reports about initiatives to improve health care. Seek alternative sources to public radio and liberal news sources. CCH Freedom, and our weekly eNews publication, provides you with a reliable alternative. Thank you for donating to CCH Freedom to help us counter the falsehoods with facts!

Partnering with you for health freedom,

Twila Brase, R.N., PHN
President and Co-founder