Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nonpartisan concerns about Donald Berwick: extreme consumerism and quackery

As I think about it I become increasingly amazed at the credulous support of Don Berwick's appointment from the professional community. I have concluded that very few among our ranks have taken more than a superficial look at what Berwick is all about. Most of my colleagues know that he headed up the IHI, a sort of medical think tank that produced a lot of sound-good, feel-good ideas. But that's about as far as the analysis seems to go. As Berwick is romantic about the NHS so are many docs about Berwick, it seems.

At a place like IHI a leader can test the waters with flaky, over the top ideas to relatively little harm. Consider that person for a powerful government position and important questions arise. Those questions were never adequately addressed.

I've been a Berwick watcher for quite a while (because he's always been a hot topic at the Society of Hospital Medicine) and posted some concerns (here and here) long before any talk of his nomination for head of CMS. And while many of my recent postings about Berwick have focused on the well known Republican objections I have written several other posts (here, here, here, here and here) which, because they would be cause for concern on both sides of the political aisle, could have derailed his confirmation if he had been given a hearing. I'm talking, of course, about his extreme views on medical consumerism and his tendency to support non-evidence based and implausible complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Unfortunately, due to the relatively small reach of this blog, I did a poor job of getting the word out. That's why I am pleased today to provide links on this very subject from two of the big guys in the blogging world. David Gorski at Science Based Medicine wrote Dr. Donald Berwick and “patient-centered” medicine: Letting the woo into the new health care law? and Kimball Atwood at Health Care Renewal wrote New CMS Chief Donald Berwick: a Trojan Horse for Quackery?

These posts are worth reading in their entirety. You'll find that Berwick is romantic about a lot more than the NHS.

No comments: