Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What's Wrong with "Best Doctor" Lists in Magazines

By Dr. Kent Sepkowitz in Slate:
About this time every year, doctors across New York City begin to cast a wary eye at local newsstands. When the bundle of New York magazine's "Best Doctors" issue drops onto the pavement, torture commences for the city's prim and laconic physician class. (Other cities get their chance at other times of year.) It's high school all over again, a life lived at the mercy of cruel arbiters of who is up and who is down. To their credit, I suppose, the compilers of the Best Doctors list define worthiness with more objectivity: They poll local doctors and ask whom they would refer a family member to. With this quasi-statistical information in hand, they go behind closed doors and construct the dreaded list.

To my expert eye, every year the New York survey gets it about half right: Half of the selections are first-rate doctors, no doubt about it. Another 25 percent are people whom I don't know well (though I have my doubts), and 25 percent are certifiable duds—doctors who (hopefully) haven't seen a patient in years but have risen to the lofty realm of high society and semi-celebrityhood.
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Jean Thibaudeau said...

I don't remember who said this, perhaps it's you or was it Seth Godin in his blog. Anywat, the point was that exceptionnal doctors, the ones that have last resort cases have naturally bad rating. Their patients are in really bad condition, making them more likely to die or not fully recover despite the efforts. An average doctor that just get buy the book cases have more probability to slam dunk, thus obtaining an high rating.

The point is that no mesurement is perfect and intelligence is still needed.


Anonymous said...

Philadelphia magazine does a good job with this, but they have been doing it for quite some time. It is political for sure. But Philadelphia (mag) makes sure all of the specialties are represented.

Nashville Lifestyles magazine published it's first "Top Doc's" issue this year. As a cardiologist I was interested in that section. There were no interventional, EP or heart failure/transplant subspecialists listed. In addition, one of the cardiologists honored was referred to as "Nashville Cardiac Surgeon..." in a vignette featuring his internist wife. I think when very medically unsavvy individuals are creating such a feature, they should have some editorial input from health care providers.