Patient Satisfaction Scores and Narcotics

We have written here before about the Candy Man, who got in trouble for handing out opioids like they were mints and how his patient satisfaction scores were great. Well, here is a story about a doctor who got hammered on her scores because she didn’t hand out narcotics but then also got less pay because of it:

“Kaiser’s management denied Dr. Alpert shareholder status at least in part on the basis of financial concerns that advancing Dr. Alpert would result in reduced revenues and that other physicians would follow her example and refuse to prescribe or provide medications that were not medically indicated, further reducing the profitability of Kaiser Permanente’s business operations in the northwest region and nationally,” the complaint alleges.

The way Kaiser used patient scores “systematically incentivized its physician employees (especially its urgent care physicians) to overprescribe opioids to vulnerable populations,” the complaint says. “Kaiser’s system penalized those physicians who refused to prescribe opioids where it was not medically indicated.”

I hope she wins this lawsuit. I also hope some administrators lose their jobs over this. The perverse use of patient satisfaction scores, when used without forethought, has always been a disgusting way to bonus doctors. Yes, we want doctors to care, to listen and to be human but this job can put you in the difficult situation of saying no now and then and those patients are the ones who will try to hurt you on these surveys.

When is the last time an administrator had a “physician satisfaction survey” about their job and their pay reflected it?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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