How Medical Care Is Being Corrupted: Two doctors issue a warning

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

Summary: Two doctors issued a terrifying warning on The New York Times Op-Ed Page. Here’s an excerpt: “When we are patients, we want our doctors to make recommendations that are in our best interests as individuals. As physicians, we strive to do the same for our patients.

 

 


“But financial forces largely hidden from the public are beginning to corrupt care and undermine the bond of trust between doctors and patients. Insurers, hospital networks and regulatory groups have put in place both rewards and punishments that can powerfully influence your doctor’s decisions.

“Contracts for medical care that incorporate ‘pay for performance’ direct physicians to meet strict metrics for testing and treatment. These metrics are population-based and generic, and do not take into account the individual characteristics and preferences of the patient or differing expert opinions on optimal practice.

“For example, doctors are rewarded for keeping their patients’ cholesterol and blood pressure below certain target levels. For some patients, this is good medicine, but for others the benefits may not outweigh the risks. Treatment with drugs such as statins can cause significant side effects, including muscle pain and increased risk of diabetes. Blood-pressure therapy to meet an imposed target may lead to increased falls and fractures in older patients.” — Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband, via How Medical Care Is Being Corrupted, The New York Times.