Abortion & “transparency”

My morning newspaper has an interesting op-ed, written by Dr. Jim Weinstein, president and CEO of New Hampshire’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical practice. He writes about the need for greater transparency in health care regarding price and quality of services. He recommends that patients have access to more information than they’re currently likely to get before a procedure. He calls the current situation “flying blind.”

“In a transparent sustainable health care system, here are some questions every patient should be able to ask of me or any health care provider, to make a value-based judgment about where to have their surgery or treatment:

  • How many of these procedures or treatments did you do this year, last year?
  • What were/are your results/outcomes at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months?
  • What percentage of your patients experience complications?
  • What is the average cost for the procedure you are recommending and what will be my personal out of pocket expense?
  • What do your patients say about how they do and how they feel about the results?
  • Can you show me data from your practice to help me answer these questions to help me make my decision?

It’s the last question that’s often most important. I would suggest that 9 times out of 10, your provider will have to answer no; he or she doesn’t have the data.”

He seems to be talking about self-reporting, which would make it tough for patient watchdogs to audit claims made by providers. He makes a valid point, though: knowledge means power for patients, and data collection gives providers tools with which to improve services.

I trust that any health care provider who considers abortion to be “health care” will take Dr. Weinstein’s words to heart. I’d add something else for providers of health care and abortion alike: make your data public.



Author: Ellen Kolb

New Hampshire-based writer, activist, hiker.