When a patient visits an Illinois hospital, the hope is that he or she is treated and is able to leave healthier. There are times when a visit to the doctor results in a missed diagnosis or surgical error, though, and a patient can suffer devastating injuries. When someone is a victim of a preventable medical error, he or she may feel powerless and confused.
In situations where medical malpractice has resulted in an accident, a doctor or a hospital may try to keep the tragedy from becoming public knowledge so as not to hurt their reputation. However, in a new government decision, Medicare will now allow employers, insurance companies and consumer groups to access their comprehensive database in order to give doctors report cards.
With this decision, consumers will be able to view a doctor individually and have access to data on primary care doctors and specialists. By giving patients access to information such as how often a doctor has performed a particular procedure, they are able to make more educated decisions on their health care. This kind of information will give patients some of the power that comes with knowledge.
Instead of being forced to make uneducated decisions when choosing a doctor or having to extensively research doctors individually, patients will have transparent access to their records. Patient information, however, will remain confidential in these reports. The report cards will start to become available in 2012.
For victims of medical malpractice, this kind of information may have been very beneficial in preventing their injuries. Looking forward, future patients may not have to suffer the same pain because information on any medical errors or negligence will be more readily available.
Source: SFGate, "Using Medicare data to rate doctors gets approval," Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Dec. 6, 2011