This year researchers confirmed what many have long suspected: hospital revenue increases when patients suffer complications due to medical errors. Without hospital malpractice lawsuits to make the errors more expensive, hospitals have little incentive to make medicine safer.
The Results of the Study
The groundbreaking study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), probably the most prestigious journal in the field of medicine. Its data is shocking. Researchers looked at the medical records of 34,256 patients, of whom 1820 experienced complications. That’s a rate of 5.3%, less than what many other studies have seen.
On average, hospitals received more than $39,000 more for patients with private insurance that experienced complications. Medicare patients only resulted in an increased contribution of less than $2000. Hospitals made less for patient complications for private payers and Medicaid patients.
In an accompanying editorial, a doctor laments that our system rewards hospitals for providing substandard care.
Giving Incentive for Quality Care
The authors of the article carefully avoid attributing a desire to profit from complications to the hospital studied or others. However, their conclusion is very clear: “many hospitals have the potential for adverse near-term financial consequences for decreasing postsurgical complications.” In other words, making care safer will result in them losing money. So why would they ever do it?
That’s why it’s important for you to come forward with your concerns about medical malpractice. Only about 1% of medical malpractice victims come forward, which makes it easy for hospitals to neglect the cost of defending medical malpractice lawsuits. We need to come forward to increase the incentives for doctors to do medicine right.
If you or a loved one has been hurt by a medical error, our award-winning medical malpractice attorneys can help. Please contact Andres, Berger & Tran in Haddonfield, New Jersey today for a free initial consultation.