Heart attack patients might be treated with an angioplasty in which a blocked artery is opened up, but in certain states doctors are forced to publicly report the outcomes of these procedures. Now a new study looks at how reporting that outcome may make doctors think twice.
Doctor Karen E. Joynt of the Harvard School of Public health says, "these procedures can sometimes be lifesaving and we really don't want there to be any incentive for a hospital to not provide one of these procedures if it's necessary."
Doctors studied about 50 thousand patients in states that are required to report outcomes Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania and compared them to similar patients in non reporting states. Dr. Joynt says patients having heart attacks in public reporting states had about 20 percent lower odds of receiving one of these procedures than patients in other states.
Interestingly, the Journal of the American Medical Association study finds no big change in mortality rates, but the goal is to make sure doctors feel confident.
Joynt says "we didn't see any big changes in mortality across these groups suggesting that some of the procedures that were forgone were probably futile but some of the procedures were probably necessary."
Massachusetts in particular has done a lot of work to try to mitigate that risk and try to help physicians and hospitals feel comfortable taking care of sick patients.
Researchers say the federal government already publicly reports on outcomes for pneumonia, heart failure, heart attacks and some surgeries.