In what experts are calling pure genius, Emergency Department utilization has never been better, costs have been severely cut down, and patient satisfaction scores are through the roof –a national high.
In reality, life imitates art right?
Experts say too many patients are being prescribed opioid painkillers by emergency room doctors, and a program created by Obamacare could be enabling the problem.
A new study released this week found 17 percent of nearly 20,000 patients were discharged from emergency rooms with an opioid prescription. Experts and lawmakers say a push under Obamacare for hospitals to get good patient satisfaction scores is one cause of the problem.
America is in the midst of an opioid “epidemic,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Painkillers killed more than 16,000 people in 2013. A huge part of the problem is the prescribing of painkillers, which quadrupled from 1999 to 2013.
Emergency room prescriptions are part of this trend, but data are lacking on the reasons opioids are given out, according to the study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
A program created by Obamacare tied extra funding to high scores on the survey.
“Their reimbursement and quality ratings are linked to ways patients rate them on categories,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of the doctor advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.
The survey has three questions about pain, including whether the physician adequately treated pain.
While it sounds like a benign question, “it forces physicians and surgeons to not only ask about pain but be sure they are prescribing appropriate medication,” said Dr. David St. Peter, a hospitalist with Saratoga Hospital in New York. St. Peter works to admit patients to the hospital if they need further treatment after the emergency room.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced publication of a five-star rating system for hospitals based in part on satisfaction survey scores.
This practice hasn’t gone unnoticed by Congress.