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Docs think quality reports will backfire

CHICAGO, March 6 (UPI) -- Three of four U.S. primary-care doctors think financial rewards would improve medical services but worry that public reporting would jeopardize care.

In a study led by Lawrence Casalino and his colleagues at the University of Chicago, 88 percent of the 550 randomly selected general internists who participated thought that current quality measures would not be accurate; about 66 percent did not think that health plans and the government would try to make the measures accurate; 85 percent thought that socioeconomic status was not adequately considered; and 82 percent worried that flawed quality assessments would encourage physicians to avoid high-risk or disadvantaged patients.

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"I have 10 to 15 patients whom I would have to fire," said one respondent. "The poor, unmotivated, obese, and noncompliant would all have to find new physicians."

Although three-quarters thought that if the measures were accurate, physicians should be given financial rewards for quality, only 30 percent thought that current measures of quality were adequate, and they had little confidence that this would change.

The survey is published in the March/April issue of Health Affairs.

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