Physician sues Kaiser Permanente over opioid-related patient satisfaction scores

An emergency medicine physician filed a lawsuit Sept. 18 against Kaiser Permanente over its patient satisfaction scoring methodology, which she alleges incentivized overprescribing of opioids and hurt her career at the Oakland, Calif.-based health system, The News Tribune reports.

Eryn Alpert, MD, worked at Kaiser Permanente from 2012 to December 2017, when she was fired. The lawsuit alleges her dismissal stemmed from her failure to accept patient satisfaction scoring tools. It alleges these tools were structured to incentivize physicians to prescribe opioids, even when medically unnecessary. The lawsuit said this pressure was greater in the emergency department, where patients often went seeking prescriptions and would leave poor reviews if they didn't receive them, according to the report.

In the lawsuit, Dr. Alpert alleges her resistance to prescribing unnecessary opioids created a high standard deviation in her patient scores, which in turn prevented her from gaining shareholder status three years in a row, according to the report.

Kaiser Permanente declined The News Tribune's request for comment.

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