There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “The Drawbacks of Rate Your Doctor Medical Transparency.” Matthew S. Isaac, a marketing professor from the Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics, outlined one of the untold truths of rating your doctor sites and disclosure by heath care systems of patient satisfaction scores. Essentially, he warned us that bad medicine can result from the pursuit of good ratings. It’s possible that doctors may,
“[N]eedlessly prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests, and perform invasive procedures that are not only expensive but may actually harm patients by exposing them to radiation, side effects or other complications. This may explain the surprising association that researchers from University of California Davis observed between high levels of patient satisfaction and mortality rates. Apparently, when providers perform discretionary services such as a CT scan for ordinary headache—to appease their patients, the risk of potential adverse effects increases.”
It may be time to check in with yourself and start tracking the amount of times you say yes to patients when in fact what the really need is less medicine. How often are you ordering unnecessary tests because patients ask for them? Are you trying to make them happy at the expense of what they really need which is a better explanation of why you are saying no?
Hopefully this article has made you think about how you practice a bit more carefully. We all need to step back once in a while and course correct to see if we are doing the right thing for patients or if we are gunning for the good review like we were in college gunning for good grades. The United States is one of two countries that allows for pharmaceutical advertising direct to consumer. It’s not our fault that patients come to us asking for medications. But, it’s our duty as caregivers to advise them honestly and to not fall prey into “Yes Man” syndrome.