Clean Malpractice Records Don't Correlate with Doctors' Quality, Study Find

09.14.2010 - Tort Reform

When patients need to pick a doctor, there's not much out there for them to compare. They can check board certification, see malpractice claim payouts, and count years of experience, information available on many state medical board websites.

But a RAND study from Massachusetts says that the limited amount of publicly available information doesn't correlate with higher quality practitioners, at least according to one set of measurements commonly used. The report is published in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Our big take home message is that the types of physician characteristics that are widely available don't predict which physicians will deliver high quality, evidenced-based care," says lead author Rachel Reid, a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "What this says is that you can't judge a book by its cover."

She called for more publicly available, accessible and understandable measurement tools the public can access, such as those used by health plans to reward physicians, or those used by HEDIS, TheHealthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set.

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