The new study by the Dartmouth Atlas Project, published today in the health journal BMJ, faults the practice of trying to assess how sick patients are by looking at records to see patient diagnoses. The authors argue that the more times patients see doctors or get tests, the more new diagnoses they are given. “The more one looks, the more one finds,” the authors wrote….

Medicare risk-adjusts when determining how much to pay private Medicare Advantage insurance plans. It also used risk adjustments when deciding that 2,217 hospitals should be penalized for having high rates of patient readmissions. Risk adjustment is also a key component in new models of delivering care, such as the accountable care organizations….

Without these risk adjustments to level the comparisons, a hospital with more frail and very ill patients—who are more likely to die — might incorrectly appear to be doing a worse job than a hospital with healthier patients — who are more likely to survive.

Kaiser Health News. This is very important. See Linda Gorman’s previous post.