“The HCAHPS includes questions that ask whether the patient needed medicine for pain, how often the patient's pain was well controlled, and how often the hospital staff did everything they could to help with the patient's pain,” the letter notes. “As a result, a patient's answers to these questions can affect the Medicare payments made to these hospitals.”
The senators specifically cite an incident, reported by Forbes last year, where a South Carolina woman purportedly received a prescription for Dilaudid when she went to the emergency room for a toothache. They also cite a report from last year in the Atlantic that recounted a Midwest doctor who quit practicing medicine in part because he was under too much pressure from patients to prescribe pain meds.
“In order to better understand CMS' practices regarding the use of patient satisfaction surveys and their impact on hospital funding and prescription OPR abuse, given the concerns outlined in this letter, we request that you explain in writing what, if anything, CMS is doing to address the impact of patient surveys on the improper prescribing of OPRs,” the letter concludes.
The CMS had no immediate comment on the request.
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