The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), which represents 12,000 ear, nose, and throat surgeons in the U.S., issued this statement today in response to remarks made by President Obama during his press briefing on July 22, 2009.
Responding to a question, President Obama said, “Part of what we want to do is to make sure that those decisions are being made by doctors and medical experts based on evidence, based on what works…. Right now, doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that's out there. … the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, 'You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out … I'd rather have that doctor making those decisions based on whether you really need your kid's tonsils out, or whether … something else would make a difference…. So part of what we want to do is to free doctors, patients, hospitals to make decisions based on what's best for patient care.”
In reply, the AAO-HNS stated, “We, too, are in favor of evidence-based medicine that supports quality patient care. President Obama’s statement highlights the complexity of medical decisions like this. However, the AAO-HNS is disappointed by the President's portrayal of the decision making processes by the physicians who perform these surgeries. In many cases, tonsillectomy may be a more effective treatment, and less costly, than prolonged or repeated treatments for an infected throat. (continues here...)