Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ohmygod! Doctors Will Quit Under Obamacare!

This is what people who watch Fox News are told. Moreover, the study finding this appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine! Given that it's perhaps the most prestigious medical journal in the country, the findings must be true.

And the findings are frightening: Almost half of all physicians surveyed stated that they would either retire early or quit practicing medicine if a public option was implemented in the health care reform proposal. Not having a public option would cut those losses to just one-third of all physicians.

The end of the world is nigh! We must cancel all changes immediately!

Except that the study was NOT published by the New England Journal of Medicine, but by The Medicus Firm, a national physician search firm. That doesn't mean the study isn't a good one, of course.

To find out more about it I went to the Medicus site. I wanted to see the questions the study used, because it's well known that how one frames the questions will affect the answers. Just think of something in this vein:

"Would you quit practicing medicine if hordes of desperate patients suddenly crashed your office and demanded extensive treatments from you without any extra pay?"

Now that would be a very biased question. It's only presented as an example which demonstrates why having a look at the questions used in any study is important.

But I couldn't find the questionnaire, though I was invited to contact them for full results. Would those include the questions? I guess the only way to find out is to try them.

Did the people at Fox News do that? Do they know what the survey actually asked? These kinds of questions are boring but pretty important.