Fox's Neil Cavuto dishonestly spun the release of a voluntary health survey to claim that “death panels are back,” echoing a fictional claim spread by Sarah Palin about health care reform. In fact, the survey is simply a tool created by researchers that doctors can choose to use as a guideline when discussing treatment options with patients.
Cavuto declared that Sarah Palin “was right” while discussing the survey with Fox News health editor Dr. Manny Alvarez. On-screen text labeled the surveys “new gov't-funded 'death tests.' ” Alvarez claimed the tests would lead to elderly patients being denied care and concluded, “Death panel? You're looking at it. This is what they're making me do in the future.”
But the survey, a “mortality index,” was developed by San Francisco researchers as a tool doctors can voluntarily use to evaluate “whether costly health screenings or medical procedures are worth the risk” for elderly patients, as CBS News reported. CBS News explained:
[D]octors can use the results to help patients understand the pros and cons of such things as rigorous diabetes treatment, colon cancer screening and tests for cervical cancer. Those may not be safe or appropriate for very sick, old people likely to die before cancer ever develops.
Contrary to Alvarez's claim, the index is not compulsory for any doctor or patient.