The Corner

Centralized Medicine Erodes Individualized Care

The socialized NHS is infamous for having doctors practice to the bureaucrats’ memos.

It’s now happening here. Federal law requires hospitals to have patients fill out satisfaction surveys to determine payment rewards and punishments from on high.

This has led to an allegation that hospitals seek to gain patient customer favor by over treating pain. From the Wall Street Journal story:

In a sign of growing alarm about painkiller addiction, a group of U.S. state health officials, doctors and consumer advocates is calling for a stricter approach to treating pain in hospitals and clinics.

The group of 60, including senior health officials from Pennsylvania, Vermont, Alaska and Rhode Island, is recommending new guidelines for pain treatment, saying current standards are too aggressive and contribute to overuse of addictive painkillers.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the group urges the agency to stop surveying patients about how well their pain was controlled while in the hospital, a set of questions the agency uses to help judge hospital performance and determine payment.

The group argued that the pain questions “have had the unintended consequence of encouraging aggressive opioid use” because hospitals aim for high scores on the surveys.

Get it? What matters in centralized-control medicine isn’t so much the actual condition of patients, but rather, complying with bureaucratic guidelines from on high. 

But here’s the thing: If the requested bureaucratic shift is accepted, the new guidelines will inevitably lead to some patients remaining in unnecessary pain.

Complaints will ensue, which in turn, will lead to yet another bureaucratic “fix.” And another, and another, ad infinitum

Why? Because the underlying cause of the chaos–centralized control–is never challenged.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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