Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Should Doctors Have Privacy Rights?

With the recent release of defibrillator implant data by CMS, the issues of physicians' privacy regarding outcomes seems to be a thing of the past. While I am confident in my skills and outcomes, I pity the new physicians trying to get a head-start and the physicians at centers which treat a high proportion of patients with lower socioeconomic status and more health problems. The data will favor the large volume implanter with high experience and more healthy population (if it doesn't, something's wrong with the data). Will total number of cases performed be revealed or just complication "rate"? Will the doctor with one complication in their first 10 cases be asked to cease implanting devices? To ask journalists from the New York Times to analyze this data in any meaningful and constructive way seems disingenuous. I commend CMS for their decision to withhold this data from journalistic reviewers on a warpath to discredit individuals or institutions in the name of getting a story. We all know, nothing sells like bad news. Ask yourself, were there any good data decribed in the Times article? How many lives were saved by the implants performed? How many heroic circumstances occurred to assure patients received appropriate devices?

Although I blog, I do not pretend to be a journalist. I hope the journalists from the Times do not pretend to be physicians.


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