Physician Awareness of Economic Factors in Clinical Decision-Making

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Physicians' awareness of economic factors in clinical decision-making at one large urban university medical center was studied by a 50-item questionnaire. Their dollar estimates were considered correct if within ±20 per cent of the true October 1976 figure. Eighty-one per cent of the house staff and all of the attendings correctly estimated the daily semi-private room rate, but only 15 per cent of each group correctly estimated the charge for a serum potassium. Roughly half of the questions concerning various third-party benefit plans were answered correctly. These results are consistent with those of the few previous studies. If the findings are generally applicable, they may suggest that a directed teaching program in simple economic facts and principles may be useful at all levels of physician training.

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