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Poll: Cut Medical Error by Requiring Doctor Reporting of Outcomes

When the car is broken, you take it to the mechanic. When your body is broken, you take it to the doctor. Sadly, though, it is probably fair to say that when it comes to gauging the quality of care we receive in either instance, chances are good we’re more confident in the value our mechanic is delivering to us than we are in what we’re getting from the doctor.

Few would dispute that it would be better for us to feel equally confident that both our mechanics and doctors are top notch, but as a new poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals, such is not the case. A lot of Americans just don’t feel they know how to go about rating the quality of their health care providers.

We put our very lives in the hands of medical professionals based mainly on whether insurance will cover the visit or how much it will cost, and whether we are comfortable with the doctor’s bedside manner. But that doesn’t do much to flag those doctors who may regularly fail to follow the standard of care we have a right to expect.

As a result, disease or injury may be improperly diagnosed and inappropriate, possibly dangerous treatments might be administered. In such circumstances, victims should know they have a right to seek compensation for medical malpractice.

According to the random national poll of just over 1,000 people, only 22 percent said they feel good about their ability to find the data they need to assess doctor quality. Thirty-four percent say they are only moderately confident and 40 percent say they aren’t confident at all.

About 60 percent of respondents said they depend on recommendations from trusted friends, family or other doctors in making their choices. A lot fewer are ready to trust online reviews, regardless of whether they come from patients, insurers, rating sites or the government.

At the same time, more than 70 percent of respondents said they believe quality of care would get better in this country if doctors were required to report patient outcome and satisfaction rankings.

What is evident is that there is plenty of room for improvement and experts say one way to drive that would be for consumers to base decisions on how effective a doctor’s whole system is in supporting best practices of care.

Source: The Big Story, “Before doctors check your vitals, check out theirs,” Lauran Neergaard and Jennifer Agiesta, July 20, 2014