New health data outs doctors whose patients die more often

Most of us peruse reviews and check out diner ratings before booking a fancy restaurant. But when it comes to selecting a doctor to perform life-saving surgeries, we have no equivalent to Yelp.
People typically rely on their social networks or a trusted family doctor for referrals, but those recommendations are often biased or based on a one-off experience, not real data.

In fact, consumers lack the requisite data to compare hospital and physician costs, as well as assess the quality of care. The reality is that far more information exists online about that trendy new eatery than your child’s pediatrician.
The British government is taking bold steps to rectify this problem.

This month, the U.K. government introduced a new plan for a more transparent National Health Service (NHS), requiring doctors and consultants to hand over performance data, including the number of patients that die in their care each year. The measure was introduced under the Data Protection Act.

The intention for the scheme is to show patients how well surgical teams in hospitals across England are performing, compared to one other. A spokesperson for the NHS told the U.K. press that it will “shine a light on variation and unacceptable practice.”
Those who refuse will be “named and shamed,” the local press is reporting. About 4 percent of physicians have already opted out, according to the Guardian.
 Among the concerns expressed by doctors is that it will lead to specialists turning down risky surgeries to avoid increasing their morbidity rates. Also, it’s not often clear who’s responsible for patients with multiple doctors — if something bad happens to the patient, which doctor’s ratings take the blame?