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Scary Study Reveals That Medical Complications Actually Help Hospitals’ Bottom Lines

On Behalf of | May 1, 2013 | Medical Malpractice

Hospitals have done a lot in recent years to curb the thousands of unnecessary deaths and injuries that take place in medical facilities each year. Hand-washing campaigns and fancy germ fighting equipment have been used to try and prevent some of the avoidable medical complications that occur each year. One troubling detail that has recently been brought to light is how lucrative such complications can be to a hospital’s bottom line.

In a very grim report, researchers from Harvard Medical School published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that surgical complications from infections and procedure-related strokes were typically twice as lucrative as operations that went smoothly.

The study was meant to highlight how it might be difficult to continue to push for safety reforms in the medical industry when hospitals have a vested financial interest not to do so. The study focused on 34,000 surgeries performed at Texas Health, a large hospital network in Dallas.

The results clearly showed that the more money hospitals invest in efforts to reduce surgical complications, the more they hurt their own bottom line. On average, procedures with complications netted the hospital system $15,700, compared to $7,600 for procedures that went off without a hitch. The most lucrative botched surgeries were those involving the spine, brain and heart.

The authors of the study got their idea to explore the issue after they felt frustrated about the lack of effort on the part of medical providers to reduce unnecessary errors. They said that even simple things like a surgical checklist had been shown to reduce complications by more than one-third, yet many people were not adopting it. They wondered whether money could play a role in the issue and were surprised at what they discovered.

The study’s authors say that one takeaway from the study should be the importance of reforming the insurance payment system. The report indicated that insurers should make realigning payments with surgical success a top priority. The issue is an important one given that the Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 100,000 people die each year due to medical complications and more than one million others are injured.

If you would like to speak with a Mississippi medical malpractice attorney about a potential medical malpractice claim, call Mississippi medical malpractice lawyers at Kilpatrick & Philley today at 601-707-4669.

Source: “Treatment Woes Can Bolster Hospitals’ Profit,” by Christopher Weaver, published at WSJ.com.

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