Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Noose of Government Clinical Guidelines

Dr. Doug Perednia discusses, "How physicians not adhering to clinical guidelines may be punished".

As he notes:
If the Justice Department investigation is, in fact, going to target clinicians based upon their adherence to guidelines, the American healthcare system is headed down a very slippery slope. Government regulators and prosecutors will, of course, contend that they're simply looking for "waste, fraud and abuse", and that looking for non-adherence to guidelines is a reasonable screening tool when looking for criminals. But let's not kid around. Any such policy is going to have a chilling effect on treating patients as individuals rather than statistically average widgets. You may need a test or procedure as a part of good medical care, but your doctor is going to be too scared to order it if her record of "guideline compliance" is at stake.

Think about it. For the first time your doctor may have a real choice to make if your medical condition doesn't happen to fit neatly into some academic cookbook. Adhere to the guideline and commit malpractice, or violate the guidelines and risk jail time.

Using guidelines in this way is unscientific, unethical and just plain wrong.
In other words, the federal government is going to claim that it knows better than your doctor whether you should have a certain test or treatment. And it will base that determination on statistical data which may or may not apply to your particular case.

We have been warned.