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Patient-Satisfaction Surveys Make Doctors Feel Pressured To Prescribe Antibiotics

Patient-satisfaction surveys could be contributing to an increase in antibiotic-resistant infections in Northern Nevada. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray explores why.

Dr. Jim Wilson is a pediatrician and a disease forecaster for Nevada. He says the increasing resistance to antibiotics is one of his chief public health concerns.

“Over time, we’ve had increasing resistance to multiple classes of drugs for the most common bacteria," Wilson says, "that we see in medicine here in Northern Nevada and that needs to be addressed.”

Wilson says health care facilities receiving reimbursements from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are rated by results frompatient-satisfaction surveys. Money is withheld from providers receiving low scores. He says this policy pressures doctors to give in to demands from patients to prescribe antibiotics unnecessarily.

“We are driving physicians to give antibiotics inappropriately with our policies and that has got to change," Wilson explains. "That’s a big message for the federal government right there.”

Wilson draws parallels to the opioid epidemic. He says doctors also feel compelled to overprescribe pain killers to ensure their patient-satisfaction survey scores remain high.

Anh Gray is a former contributing editor at KUNR Public Radio.
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