Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study to Rate Doctors Treating Medicare Patients

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study to Rate Doctors Treating Medicare Patients

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The federal government is planning a study that will rate the more than 300,000 physicians who treat Medicare patients on the quality of their patient care, a top administration health official said.

The proposed federal budget that takes effect Oct. 1 includes funds for preliminary work on the study, which is expected to take several years to complete. The study, as now envisioned, would rate doctors by name and the results would eventually be made public.

The study will be similar to the data on the mortality rates of nearly 6,000 hospitals, published in each of the last two years, and a forthcoming study on the quality of care in 15,000 nursing homes, to be made public this fall. The hospital studies were conducted to provide the public with information regarding the quality of care and to enable patients to make better-informed decisions on where to obtain health care.

``We plan to measure the performance of individual physicians by seeing how well their patients do,'' said Dr. William L. Roper, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services. Health officials have not said how they plan to present their findings to the public. The hospital studies were made available through the Government Printing Office.

``There are differences in the quality of care given by physicians and hospitals,'' Roper said. ``We can measure those differences, and that information should be conveyed to the public.''

Roper noted that there were many factors to be considered in rating physicians, including mortality rates, speed of recovery, and complexity and severity of illnesses. ``We'll need to adjust for the severity of the caseload,'' Roper said, ``but it's definitely do-able. …

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