Rating Doctors

Do public “report cards” improve medical care?


Recent publicity over medical mistakes has revived a longstanding critique of the quality of American medicine. Just as harmful to patients as outright errors, experts warn, is the profession's reluctance to adopt proven treatments. Hundreds of government and professional guidelines aimed at bringing doctors up to date have gathered dust on physicians' shelves. Doctors have traditionally resisted public disclosure of their failure rates, but some states are already publishing such information. And several big employers are rewarding consumers that use highly rated hospitals. Unless consumers have a reliable way to distinguish good doctors from bad, medical quality will never improve, consumer advocates contend. An Internet-savvy public may soon demand the right to know more.

Doctors, hospitals and health maintenance organizations are coming under increasing pressure to ...

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