The NY Times targets doctors, again

A recent editorial comments on Medicare’s never-event policy.

There is no question that hospitals and doctors shouldn’t be paid for catastrophic mistakes, like wrong-site surgery. However, the editorial seems to support the widespread expansion of the initiative:

In the long run, as the list of conditions is expanded and more insurers follow Medicare’s lead, the savings could be substantial.

Medicare is already proposing partially preventable conditions to be added to the list, like hospital-acquired infections and delirium. No guidelines exist to prevent these complications 100 percent. Bob Wachter, among others, has discussed this in detail.

Blaming doctors for complications that cannot be totally prevented will only disincline them from treating high-risk patients, like the elderly and those with chronic diseases.

The Times’ editorial board should be careful what they wish for before trotting out their traditional anti-physician stance.